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There can be no peace without freedom, and no freedom without peace

Dr Manmohan Singh | Updated on: 7 November 2015, 17:57 IST

The vision

  • Speaking at a function honouring Nehru, ex-PM Manmohan Singh warned against rising intolerance
  • He said Nehru\'s vision of \'no peace without freedom; no freedom without peace\' was relevant today

The economics

  • Singh, a respected economist, also warned against the effects of tensions on the economy
  • He said \'capital is frightened away by conflict\'

More in the story

  • How to measure the true strength of a nation
  • How the intellectuals\' protest is upholding Nehruvian ideals

Former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has urged the citizens of India to maintain the country's core diversity.

In a speech inaugurating the National Conference of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies in New Delhi, in celebration of Jawaharlal Nehru's 125th birth anniversary, Singh addressed the rising intolerance and communal tensions in the country.

Recalling Nehru's vision for India, Singh said: "To maintain and strengthen the rich diversity that is our Indian Republic, we must maintain unvarnished our ancient civilisational commitment to respect and honour - and appreciate - diversity, pluralism and communal harmony."

Here's the full text of his speech.

'There can be no free market without freedom'

Dear Prof. Irfan Habib, dear Shri Kumar Ketkar, distinguished academicians and public intellectuals, civil society leaders, leaders of the Congress party and its frontal organisations from across India, members of the media, ladies and gentlemen.

I am delighted to be here this morning for the inauguration of this National Conference, being held in celebration of the 125th birth anniversary of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India.

I am very happy that over the last year, the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru has been celebrated in various functions in various parts of India.

Nehru was not just India's first Prime Minister. He was a visionary, scholar and architect and builder of today's Republic.

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Deftly synthesising the values, world view and aspirations of one of the oldest civilisations in the world with the cutting edge global, political and economic ideas and institutions (such as universal adult franchise, democratic socialism as well as new age science and industrial technology), Nehru ably translated the vision of the freedom struggle into an institutional and organisational reality for one-sixth of humanity.

Nehru wasn't just our first PM. He was a visionary, scholar and architect & builder of our Republic

This was a historical achievement of epic proportion. Nehru's contributions of action and thought spanned practically every field of human endeavour, ranging from nation building, economic and social development, democracy, promotion of scientific research, foreign policy, agriculture, cultural diversity, social harmony, and the uplift of under-privileged and backward communities.

Nehru was a humanist and an internationalist, and a champion of the post-colonial world. He was a man of great compassion and love, the foremost disciple of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of our nation. His service to India and to the world will be remembered for all time to come. Nehru is a kindred spirit for the youth of today.

Like today's youth, the ever-youthful Nehru was irreverent and demanding in questioning given wisdom and knowledge; had the same thirst for change; the same insistence on individual freedom; the same demand for social and economic equality, democratic voice and power over their own future; the same opposition to established power structures; the same rejection of blind faith and superstition; the same reverence for science and technology, reason and rationality; and the same infinite self-confidence that the people of India can - and will - build a new India free from the fear of war, want and exploitation.

As the most erudite, experienced, modern, liberal, democratic and global leader India has had, Nehru's values offer a most appealing platform of globally accepted liberal ideas, on which a youthful India can march forward with confidence into the future.

As we look to the future, it is clear that Nehru is re-emerging as the centre of gravity of Indian political thought - especially in the post global financial crisis era that has once again restored the need for an effective role for the State in advancing the common good.

The true strength of a nation lies not in brute force - but in the robustness of its values

The effort of the last twelve months to remember, honour and celebrate the life, values, and legacy of India's first Prime Minister should not end this month. The last twelve months should be a beginning of a continuing discourse on the founding values of our Republic, and an unending struggle to defend those values.

A nation is not made just of brick and mortar, or of guns or steel. The gold in its coffers does not make a nation. A nation is its values - its lived values. The true strength of a nation lies not in the brute force of the State - but in the robustness of its values and the strength of its moral character.

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India then is, in its essence, a set of values that inspired and guided our unique freedom struggle and are enshrined in our Constitution - swaraj, truth, non-violence, compassion, justice, liberty, equality, dignity, fraternity and unity in diversity. Any erosion of these values will weaken the nation.

I would like to briefly comment, in the contemporary context, on some of the foundational values of our Republic, as identified by Nehru in the Objectives Resolution of the Constituent Assembly that he drafted.

Freedom is a foundational value that lies at the heart of the Nehruvian idea of India. It is widely known that freedom feeds the soul and the heart. What is less appreciated is that freedom is also essential for economic development.

The unimpeded flow and exchange of ideas is essential to build economic prosperity. As has been said by a wise person long ago, "there is no progress without opposition". The prerequisite for innovation, entrepreneurship and competition is an open society and a liberal polity, where individuals are free to pursue their ideas. Suppression of dissent or free speech poses a grave danger for economic development. There can be no free market without freedom.

It is said 'there is no progress without opposition'. There can be no free market without freedom

The nation is deeply concerned at the recent tragic instances of blatant violations of the right to freedom of thought, belief, speech and expression in our country by some violent extremist groups. The assault or murder of thinkers for no more than disagreement with their views, or because of the food they eat, or their caste, cannot be justified on any grounds. Nor can the suppression of the right to dissent be allowed.

All right thinking people in the country have condemned such incidents in the strongest terms as an assault on the nation.

Nehru's great concern was also with advancing the cause of equality and equity in our country by uplifting the oppressed masses - and wiping every tear from every eye - a phrase that Nehru had coined as a description of the mission of Mahatma Gandhi, but equally applied to his own life.

Disagreeing with approaches that blamed the poor for their own condition, Nehru said in the Discovery of India, "The backwardness or degradation of any group is not due to inherent failings in it, but principally due to lack of opportunities and long suppression by other groups... Therefore, not only must equal opportunities be given to all, but special opportunities for educational, economic and cultural growth must be given to backward groups so as to enable them to catch up with those who are ahead of them. Any such attempt to open the doors of opportunity to all in India will release enormous energy and ability and transform the country with amazing speed."

Unity and respect for diversity; secularism and pluralism are vital for the survival of the Republic

This Nehruvian mantra has always been to create a dynamic economy that opens up opportunity for all - locally, nationally and globally - and generates enough fiscal resources for government to guarantee "special opportunities for educational, economic and cultural growth of backward groups".

A strong Union government proactively promoting social and economic justice through direct intervention, an effective planning mechanism, as well as a strong, democratic, honest and efficient public sector fulfilling social responsibilities out of reach of the excluded and the marginalised are central to the Nehruvian vision, as well as for promoting sustainable and inclusive growth that does not exacerbate inequality and disparity.

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Unity and respect for diversity; secularism and pluralism are vital for the survival of the Republic.

Delivering the 21st Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Lecture on November 13, 1989, the then-Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi said, and I quote, "We in India are inheritors of a great historical experience in organising a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-caste, multi-regional society. The global village has to learn from our experience the basic lesson of how humanity is to live together not in segregated States but as one human family."

To maintain and strengthen the rich diversity that is our Indian Republic, we must maintain unvarnished our ancient civilisational commitment to respect and honour - and appreciate - diversity, pluralism and communal harmony.

Secularism is an article of faith for the Indian Republic. Secularism protects the fundamental freedom of every citizen to faith, belief and worship. All religions are equally respected under the Indian Constitution. Religion is a private matter in which no one, including the State, can interfere, except to the extent necessary to protect the freedom of others.

Peace is essential for economic and intellectual growth. Capital is frightened away by conflict

In a secular republic, no religion can become the basis of public policy or governance, nor can any religious belief be imposed on anyone.

Peace is essential not only for human existence and survival, but also for economic and intellectual growth and development. Capital is likely to be frightened away by conflict.

I am therefore especially happy to note the theme of the RGICS Conference ('No Peace without Freedom; No Freedom without Peace'), derived from the powerful last sentence of Jawaharlal Nehru's epic work, 'The Discovery of India', in which he says, looking forward to the future as he ends his book, and I quote, "There is going to be no peace in India or elsewhere except on the basis of freedom".

Inaugurating the Asian Conference, New Delhi, 3rd March 1947, Nehru repeated his emphasis on peace and freedom, saying, "Peace can only come when nations are free and also when human beings everywhere have freedom and security and opportunity. Peace and freedom, therefore, have to be considered both in their political and economic aspects."

In his historic 'Tryst with Destiny' speech delivered at the midnight hour when, in his words, "India awoke to life and freedom", Pandit Nehru said, and I quote, "Peace has been said to be indivisible; so is freedom; so is prosperity... and also.. disaster - in this one world that can no longer be split into isolated fragments."

The timeless insight of Jawaharlal Nehru that there will be no peace without freedom; and no freedom without peace, is as fresh and relevant to the world in 2015 as it was when it was written, half a century ago.

Peace and freedom have poignant depth and meaning for my generation, the generation that lived through partition - that incomparable holocaust of hatred in which both peace and freedom were lost for so many.

Nehru's insight - 'no peace without freedom; and no freedom without peace' - is fresh and relevant

It is necessary for all people who support the Nehruvian idea of India as a liberal, secular, social democracy to now come together and join together to preserve and protect the integrity of our Republic.

I am extremely happy that a very distinguished gathering of thinkers and doers committed to liberal, democratic values of the Republic, to which Jawaharlal Nehru dedicated his life, will be meeting in this Conference today and tomorrow to exchange views and start the process of developing a common agenda for action. This is indeed a moment in our history when all right-thinking people should come together and pool their wisdom, knowledge and experience to defend the core values of our Republic.

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I am sure the discussions will be extremely fruitful and they will provide direction and strength to the struggle to counter and defeat the counter-democratic tendencies that are rising in our country.

What greater tribute can there be to Nehru than that, over half a century after his passing, the centrestage of Indian politics is reserved for him? That not a moment passes when his ideas are either celebrated or opposed? What greater tribute can there be to Nehru in this the 125th year of his birth than a rededication by the people of this country to the struggles to which he devoted his life?

With these words, I am happy to inaugurate this national conference.

Thank you. Jai Hind.

First published: 7 November 2015, 17:58 IST