For the third time in less than a month, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday spoke out against rising intolerance, asserting that India has thrived despite all its diversities because of “assimilation and tolerance”.
Inaugurating the golden jubilee celebration of the Delhi High Court in New Delhi, Mukherjee emphasised the need to preserve the “multiplicity”. “Our country has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. Our pluralistic character has stood the test of time,” he said.
He pointed out that India is a country of 1.3 billion people who belong to different ethnic groups, speak 122 languages and 1,600 dialects, and profess seven faiths.
“Multiplicity is our collective strength which must be preserved at all costs. It finds reflection in the various provisions of our Constitution,” he said.
Mukherjee said the theme of the golden jubilee celebrations, “Justice for all”, entails equality for all the citizens of the country. “This phrase, to my mind, implies empowerment of the weak and equal treatment of law irrespective of one’s individual identity,” he said.
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Mukherjee added that the judiciary, being the final interpreter of the Constitution and law, must play its part in helping maintain social order by swiftly and effectively dealing with those on the wrong side of the law.
“As an upholder of the rule of law and enforcer of the right to liberty, the role of the judiciary is sacrosanct. The faith and confidence people have in the judiciary must be always maintained,” he said.
Mukherjee first spoke on the issue at a function at Rashtrapati Bhavan on October 7. “We should not allow the core values of our civilisation to wither away. Over the years, our civilisation has celebrated diversity, plurality and promoted and advocated tolerance. These values have kept us together over the centuries,” he said.
Less than two weeks later, he expressed “apprehension on whether tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane” in the country.
In his statement on October 19, he asserted that “humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance”. Greeting people on the eve of Durga Puja celebrations, he hoped that “Mahamaya, the combination of all positive forces, would eliminate the asuras or divisive forces”.
He emphasised that Indian civilisation had survived because of its tolerance. “It has always accepted dissent and differences,” he said.