Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said “a celebration of diversity is the spirit of India”.
He was speaking at the ceremony where the 6th Dr Paulos Mar Gregorios award 2019 was handed over to social activist and pioneer of the RTI movement Aruna Roy and her organisation Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan.
The award is given by the Sophia society, an organisation under the aegis of the Delhi Diocese of the Orthodox Church in India, also called the Malankara Orthodox Church.
Speaking at the event, Mukherjee said that before the recent amendment, RTI was a quality piece of legislation born from the experience of Aruna Roy and her colleagues.
“India is an ideal that is fulfilled by various diversities, it cannot be compartmentalised and straitjacketed,” Mukherjee said.
Delivering the keynote address, MP Shashi Tharoor said the notion of majority and minority is non-Indian. “Any narrow definition of Indians is an insult to Indianness. Everyone is a minority in India. It’s in the acceptance of our differences that make us truly Indian. Everything about India is plural,” Tharoor said.
Receiving the award, Aruna Roy said she was pained by the recent amendments to the RTI Act. “Paradise can be lost, we realised it a few days back,” she said.