In final address as Vice President, Hamid Ansari warns against military might halo, insecurity of Dalits, minorities

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, Vice-President Hamid Ansari said, “We must not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.”

Written by Johnson T A | Bengaluru | Updated: August 7, 2017 7:50 am
Vice President Hamid Ansari with Chief Justice of India Justice J S Khehar in Bengaluru, Sunday. (Source: PTI Photo)

Cautioning against “a trend towards sanctification of military might”, and expressing concern over “enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians”, Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday underlined the values of pluralism and secularism enshrined in the Constitution. Delivering his final address as Vice President, at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru, Ansari said that cultural nationalism is an “illiberal form of nationalism”, which “promotes intolerance and an arrogant patriotism”.

Speaking a day after the election of NDA candidate M Venkaiah Naidu as vice president, Ansari said that “citizenship does imply national obligations” and “necessitates adherence to and affection for the nation in all its rich diversity”. “This is what nationalism means, and should mean, in a global community of nations.

The Israeli scholar Yael Tamir has dwelt on this at some length. Liberal nationalism, she opines, ‘requires a state of mind characterised by tolerance and respect of diversity for members of one’s own group and for others’; hence, it is ‘polycentric by definition’ and ‘celebrates the particularity of culture with the universality of human rights, the social and cultural embeddedness of individuals together with their personal autonomy’,” said Ansari. “On the other hand, ‘the version of nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core is usually perceived as the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. It promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism’,” he said, quoting Tamir.

Pluralism and secularism “require for their sustenance… a state practice that eschews intolerance, distances itself from extremist and illiberal nationalism, subscribes in word and deed to the Constitution and its Preamble, and ensures that citizenship irrespective of caste, creed or ideological affiliation is the sole determinant of Indianness,” said Ansari. “In our plural secular democracy, therefore, the other is to be none other than the self. Any derogation from it would be detrimental to its core values,’’ he said. The Vice President chose his speech to young law graduates and students at NLSIU to provide an assessment of how India has fared as democracy in the 70 years since Independence.

“For many decades after Independence, a pluralist view of nationalism and Indianness, reflective of the widest possible circle of inclusiveness and a salad-bowl approach, characterised our thinking. More recently, an alternate viewpoint of purifying exclusivism has tended to intrude into and take over the political and cultural landscape,’’ he said. “One manifestation of it is an increasingly fragile national ego that threatens to rule out any dissent however innocent. Hyper-nationalism and the closing of the mind is also a manifestation of insecurity about one’s place in the world,’’ he said.

“While ensuring external and domestic security is an essential duty of the state, there seems to be a trend towards sanctification of military might overlooking George Washington’s caution to his countrymen over two centuries earlier about ‘overgrown military establishments which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty’,” Ansari said. Indian politicians and leaders need to promote the value of fraternity enshrined in the Constitution more firmly to address the growing insecurity in sections of society, the Vice President said.

Quoting Swami Vivekananda, he said, “We must not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions.” “Moving from tolerance to acceptance is a journey that starts within ourselves, within our own understanding and compassion for people who are different to us and from our recognition and acceptance of the ‘other’ that is the raison d’etre of democracy,’’ said Ansari.

“It has to become an essential national virtue to promote harmony transcending sectional diversities. The urgency of giving this a practical shape at national, state and local levels through various suggestions in the public domain is highlighted by enhanced apprehensions of insecurity amongst segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians,’’ he said. Intolerance and lack of acceptance of people has resulted in questions about our commitment to the rule of law and the emergence of arbitrary decision making and mob rule in society, he indicated.

The farm distress, Naxalite insurgencies, re-emergence of language related identity questions, indifference to excesses on the weaker sections of society, and lingering claims of local nationalisms cannot be ignored or brushed under the carpet, Ansari said. “The political immobility in relation to Jammu and Kashmir is disconcerting,’’ he said.

The Constitutional principle of equality of status and opportunity amplified through Articles 14, 15, and 16 has to be given shape through affirmative action in order for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of ‘Sab Ka Saath Sab Ka Vikas’ to have a bearing in society, the Vice President said. Indian democracy has done reasonably well in procedural terms through the regular conduct of elections, “efficacy of the electoral machinery, an ever increasing percentage of voter participation and formal functioning of legislatures’’, said Ansari.

However, he said, the performance in terms of “substantive aspects’’ like the gap between equality before the law and equal protection of the law, representativeness of the elected representative, functioning of legislatures, gender and diversity imbalance, and secularism in practice has not been satisfactory.

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  1. A
    Aug 11, 2017 at 7:07 pm
    who is intolerent, Sir. People who are against rights for women, against uniform civil code,Ram Janam bhoomi, triple talaq and death to kafirs ? or those who refuse to tolerate Vande Mataram
    1. S
      Aug 8, 2017 at 5:06 am
      Hamid Ansari should have quoted from what Islam had to say about tolerance of people other than Muslims. We already know about tolerance about Hinduism and Hindu monks.
      1. R
        Aug 7, 2017 at 10:40 pm
        This is a great sentiment but it should not be the responsibility of only the majority. The minorities should also reciprocate in an equal manner. What to say about a man who does not stand up when the national anthem is being played and does not salute the national flag.
        1. L
          Aug 7, 2017 at 9:54 pm
          To my knowledge he never ever condemned Kashmiri Pandits plight. He even never condemned terrorism but he is talking about the plight of Muslims and Dalits. He is too small a man to talk anything about intolerance.
          1. L
            Aug 7, 2017 at 9:50 pm
            First of all Muslims should learn to live in peace and practice small family norms. There are some progressive and modern Muslim countries, Anasazi should quote and teach but he is yet to preach anything that will lift them from poverty and radicalisation. He is targeting others to keep Sona, Pappu and Dragonwalas happy for some coveted POST in future. But he will not get anything.
            1. T
              Aug 7, 2017 at 6:45 pm
              The concept of real religion in pre independence period undergone a lot of change and new concept of new religion was practiced in India for corrupt political purpose. No quote was made from Swami Vivekanada or someone else to justify practice of that New Religion. Whare was Mr Hamid Ansari in last 70 yrs to caution CPM and Congress party the danger they were playing with common majority people's interest?? Did he not read the Swami Vivekanada that time?? If a Religion of their choice was used to tri-furcate one single country at that time, then why not the same another Religion would be used to unite all living under one piece of divided country?? Let him go and lecture our neighbor country this type of cheap advice to follow Israeli scholar or Vivekananda. Enough is enough, the time has come to overthrow all who will come in the way present move to unify under single roof. God is with us in this en-devour along with rich, and poorest of poor to achieve this. No body can stop it.
              1. M
                Aug 8, 2017 at 12:52 am
                Why is there a need to unify under one single roof!? Aren't we in Union!? As per the cons ution, isn't India supposed to be a ' unity in diversity 'and therefore secular!? And under what kind of single roof is the proposed unification contemplated!? Enough of such bigotry please!! Knowing such mentality exists maybe the reason for the speech!!
                1. U
                  Aug 8, 2017 at 4:06 pm
                  No! Ansari is a "typical ?" Muslim slimy bigot and trying to fool Hindus and trying put guilt on Hindus! He wants to follow Muhammad terror manual and apply on kaffirs and he is asking Hindus to surrender to Islamic State by using a part of line from Vivekananda! Vivekananda never told Hindus to embrace completely or totally Muhammad manual and establish Islamic Caliphate by killing Hindus.Cunning Ansari is telling Hindus to "embrace" Mecca Islam and demolish their own temple s! Can you define your " unity in diversity" and also ask the same to Madrasa preacher! Did Vivekananda asked Hindus to accept the genocide of Hindus by Muslims as M Gandhi did? What is your "union "? What is your "therefore secular"? You give tango lesson in Kashmir first! No stones or Pakistanis rifle bullets please!
              2. S
                Star of the Millennium
                Aug 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm
                Completely agree with Mr. Ansari. But Muslims have more to learn from his lecture than anyone else. Hope that after retiring from vice-presidency he would preach and spread these values among Muslims.
                1. M
                  M. AHMAD
                  Aug 7, 2017 at 4:24 pm
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