India’s civilisational values should be preserved, defended: President

Kolkata: Amid concern over incidents of intolerance and vandalism, President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday that India’s civilisational values cannot be allowed to be wasted and these must be preserved and defended.

Making a statement at his ancestral house in Mirati in Birbhum district, where he has gone for the Durga puja festival, the president said people must maintain social harmony.

This is the third time in about a fortnight 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 appealed for tolerance, saying that the core values of Indian civilisation cannot be shunned.

Speaking at an event on Monday in Birbhum district, Mukherjee said that India’s civilisation couldn’t have survived for 5,000 years if there was no acceptance of dissent and asked if “tolerance and acceptance of dissent are on the wane”.

Mukherjee said on Wednesday that effort should be to promote tolerance and coexistence of various views.

He said India has more than 100 languages, 1,600 dialects, seven religions and three major ethnic groups.

“We live under one constitution, one flag, under one system. That is the beauty of Indian civilisation. That is our strength.”

Mukherjee said this inherent strength and civilisational value cannot be allowed to be wasted. “It must be protected, preserved and defended,” he said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday voiced concern over acts of vandalism, saying that differences should be conveyed in a “restrained manner”.

On Monday, Hindu Sena activists smeared Jammu and Kashmir legislator Engineer Sheikh Abdul Rashid with ink while the Shiv Sena forced the Board of Control for Cricket in India to call off talks with its Pakistan counterpart on reviving cricketing ties between India and Pakistan.