Amidst a wave of rising intolerance, President Pranab Mukherjee today expressed serious apprehensions over whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane in the country.
"Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance. Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society. Our collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers in society," Mukherjee said.
Addressing a gathering organised by Nayaprajanma, a local weekly newspaper here, he asked "whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane?"
Referring to his just-concluded three nation tour in West Asia, he said wherever he had gone leaders, students and academicians asked him what is the chemistry behind strong nationalism in India where there is so much variety in respect of religion, race, language and anthropological features, etc?
"I am not sure why they ask such a question. May be the ongoing unrest had prompted them to do so," he added.
"These questions have also arisen in the mind of people here too. The essential part of the Indian civilisation and culture is its pluralism. Our bondage is strong because of tolerance--to accept the other s religion and other s opinion."
He reminded the audience of the teachings of Ramakrishna Paramhansa 'Jato Mat Tato Path' "As there are a number of beliefs, there are a number of ways".
"Indian civilisation has survived for 5000 years because of its tolerance. It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a Constitution that accommodates all these differences," the President said.