Arguing that technological capability would be of little meaning in a climate of growing scientific obscurantism and social prejudice, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Monday said the “opening of the economy” and the “closing of the minds” is a dangerous and destructive mix.
She was addressing a gathering after presenting the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award to former administrator, diplomat and Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi. Accepting the award, Gopal Gandhi said that “all those who are opposed to zabardasti” must work together, and the “larger entity… is expected to make the larger gesture”.
In his address, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke about growing intolerance, communal polarisation and mob lynching and argued that these “unsavory trends” can only harm the national interest.
Both Sonia and Singh praised Gopal Krishna Gandhi and recalled the contributions made by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Sonia said Rajiv was an “unwavering believer” that India’s unity was actually derived from and strengthened by the country’s incredible diversity. “That is what sadbhavna meant to him — not just acceptance of, not just respect for, but most fundamentally, a celebration of our society’s many diversities. Not just a passive acquiescence and tolerance of different points of view, but active engagement — so that every citizen of India is enabled to lead a life of dignity, security and self-respect,” she said.
While Rajiv was an advocate of faster economic growth, economic modernisation and of making India a front-ranking scientific and technological power, she said he believed that growing prosperity and social liberalism were two sides of the same coin. “Both had to go hand-in-hand. Technological capability would have little value in a climate of growing scientific obscurantism and social prejudice. We have seen that the opening of the economy and the closing of the mind is a dangerous and destructive mix,” she said.
Gopal Gandhi, she said, is one of the most eloquent and uncompromising champions of the values enshrined in the Constitution. Those values, she said, are under systematic assault.