New Delhi: Asserting that pluralism and tolerance have been the hallmark of our civilization, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said that India`s strength lies in her diversity.
Delivering a memorial lecture here in honour of late former Union Minister Arjun Singh, the President said in a pluralistic democracy, it is important that the values of tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience are inculcated amongst the citizens particularly the youth.
"Pluralism and tolerance is a core philosophy that must continue undeterred. India is a multi-faceted nation of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions. This cannot be turned into fiction due to the whims and caprices of few individuals. Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries," the President said.
The President quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying, "religion is a force for unity; we cannot make it a cause of conflict".
The President highlighted that harmony of faiths in India stands out as an important moral example in a world where several regions have been torn apart by sectarian conflicts and that we must continue to lead by example.
"We must work towards maintaining the continuing goodwill amongst different communities. At times, communal harmony will be put to test by vested interests. We must therefore remain alert to communal tensions rearing its ugly head anywhere.
Rule of Law must form the sole basis for dealing with any challenging situation. It is our democratic underpinning that must prevail at all times," the President said.
He stated that democracy is not all about numbers but also calls for consensus building, while adding that there must be no space for anarchy and efficient democratic machinery must have the means and wherewithal to absorb public opinion for formulation of sound policies.