Respect rights, sensitivities of minorities: President

Kolkata, Dec 14 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday called for respect for the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit, and emphasised on inclusion of every community in the national narrative.

“We must learn to respect the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit. We must cultivate a secular and democratic outlook, and promote a way of life that is inclusive and does not interfere with civic duties and rights as well as responsibilities of individuals.”

“We must strive to maintain an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative,” the president said while delivering the ‘Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture 2013 on National Integration’ at the Asiatic Society here.

“We must encourage a broad human outlook in all our citizens and educate them to rise above caste or communal loyalties, the president said.

Mukherjee said national integration demanded that every citizen recognise the primacy of national interest over group or individual interests.

“”Sometimes, it does happen that regional interests overtake our commitment to the national interest. We have to guard against any such tendency.”

He underscored the need for equality in distribution of wealth and services, and urged citizens to “constantly endeavour” for national advancement.

“If India is to meet the challenges of development and carve an honourable place for itself in the comity of nations, its citizens must make efforts continuously to increase production, distribute wealth and provide services equitably among all the people.

“They must constantly endeavour for national advancement and for achieving a shared vision of a great India,” he added.

Mukherjee appealed to the Indian citizens to “think, work and grow together” to handle nation’s problem successfully.

“National integration is essential for the idea of India to grow. With India emerging as an influential player in the international arena, the problems of our nation with a population of 1.28 billion can be successfully handled if we think together, work together and grow together,” the president said.

He also urged the Indians to learn about the country’s history, laying stress on awareness about limitations and mistakes of the past which gave rise to “problems of inequality” in the country.A

“… every Indian citizen must also be aware of our mistakes of the past and limitations which have created problems of inequality in our midst,” Mukherjee said.

“All Indians must learn about the people who came here from different parts of the world and made their own contribution to the splendid mosaic that Indian culture is.

“… the basic unity that keeps us together amidst the immense diversity of our peoples, ethnicities, languages and cultures should be ingrained in every individual citizen, especially the youth,” he said.

Mukherjee said, “The State must do its best to reduce regional imbalances and provide a just, fair and good administration which will ensure equal treatment to every citizen, irrespective of his caste, religion, race, colour, sex or place of birth.”

The president was honoured with the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lectureship plaque by the Society.

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