Are tolerance and acceptance of dissent on wane, asks President

Kolkata, Oct 19 (IANS) Amid rising protests against intolerance, President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday underlining the need for tolerance while wondering if “tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane”.

“We celebrate diversity, we promote tolerance, we accept dissent. If it wasn’t there, India’s civilization couldn’t have survived for 5,000 years,” Mukherjee said at an event in West Bengal’s Birbhum district.

“Are tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane?” he asked.

“Humanism and pluralism should not be abandoned under any circumstance. Assimilation through receiving is a characteristic of Indian society. Our collective strength must be harnessed to resist evil powers in society,” said Mukherjee, who is on a four-day visit to his ancestral house at Kirnahar in the district to attend Durga Puja.

“Indian civilisation has survived for 5,000 years because of its tolerance. It has always accepted dissent and differences. A large number of languages, 1,600 dialects and 7 religions coexist in India. We have a constitution that accommodates all these differences,” he said.

Mukherjee’s comments come on a day when members of the little known Hindu Sena smeared ink on independent Kashmir legislator Engineer Rashid’s face in New Delhi, shortly after he had spoken about a fire bomb attack in Udhampur that left a truck cleaner from the Kashmir Valley dead.

The day also witnessed the cancellation of talks between Board of Control for Cricket president Shashank Manohar and Pakistan Cricket Board chief Shahryar Khan after Shiv Sena activists demonstrated at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai protesting against revival of Indo-Pakistan cricket ties.

This is the second time in a month that the president has stressed on the importance of tolerance.

Days after the lynching of a Muslim man in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he ate beef, Mukherjee had appealed for tolerance, saying core values of civilisation cannot be shunned.

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