Unpleasant trends like growing intolerance, communal polarisation and incidents of hate crimes can damage India’s polity as they are repugnant to the promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Tuesday.
Addressing a function to mark the 75th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Singh recalled Gandhi’s words that “nothing is more important than the unity and integrity of our nation” and that “secularism is the bedrock of our nationhood”.
The former Prime Minister spoke about some disturbing trends that India has been witnessing over the past few years. “These unpleasant trends of growing intolerance, communal polarisation, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only damage our polity,” he said.
“They are repugnant to the promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony, which are cherished objectives enshrined in our Constitution. All of us need to reflect on how we can contribute to arresting these trends,” Singh said.
Singh said Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary is an occasion to remember the values of broad secular outlook, spirit of tolerance, commitment to communal harmony and empathy to others. He said Rajiv Gandhi lived by these values, which were essentially those that defined India’s nationhood. “Our homage to Rajiv should not only be a remembrance of his extraordinary personality and contribution to nation building — it should also be marked by a reaffirmation of our commitment to abide by these very values,” he said.
Arguing that Rajiv Gandhi was the “one who truly set the direction for equipping our nation for entering the new millennium with a progressive, modern and scientific outlook,” he said that “major strides in communication and information technology, in strengthening democracy at the grass roots level, in education, in ending decade-old insurgency movement in Mizoram, in opening a fresh dialogue with China, in launching the technology missions, and in many other areas, have been the direct results of his vision and efforts, and have given us today a firm platform to launch further initiatives for growth and development.”