Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said the unity of the country was as important as freedom of expression. He was delivering the keynote address at a leadership summit at the International School of Business in Mohali. Saying he would “speak from my heart” because “it is good for health”, the Vice-President spoke on a number of issues roiling the country at present, from freedom of speech to secularism to importance of “traditions” and intolerance.
“Regulation is very much needed in a democracy, if democracy has to survive. Yes, freedom of expression of an individual is very much important. But, at the same time, unity of the nation is also important,” said the Vice-President. “People express their views about Afzal Guru. In our democratic country, everyone has the right to express their views about others. But the views and the acts should be under the framework of the Constitution of our India.”
Freedom has “limitations”, Naidu said, but pointed out, “as per our Constitution, everyone is free to speak and put forth their point of view but one must not forget following the regulations”.
The Vice-President further said that while the Constitution enshrined secularism, the Vedas had taught respect for all religions. Secularism had been embedded in the Indian consciousness since the time of the Vedas, he said. “Also, secularism is strong in India not because of the Constitution…not because of this leader or that leader. It is (strong) because it is in the DNA of Indian people, the Bharatiyas. It is there in everybody’s blood,” Naidu said.
The country’s philosophy was “no discrimination on the basis of religion, appeasement of none and justice for all”, he said. Quoting several historical leaders and philosophers like Swami Vivekananda and from the Vedas, the Vice-President said, “We must take pride in our heritage, culture and traditions. We must not shunt these aside in the face of Western influences.”