Culture, faith and language makes India special : Pranab Mukherjee

9:47 PM, Thursday, June 7th, 2018
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RSS Nagpura New Delhi : Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday produced a stirring oratorical paean to India’s pluralism before a crowd of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh trainees, and warned against constricting definitions of nationhood in parochial terms — such as religion and region, and identities of “hatred and intolerance.”

As RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat looked on, the former president pointed out a contrast between the concept of the “utopian nation-state” and Indian nationalism — which he said emanates from “universalism”.

“We see the whole world as one family, and pray for the happiness and good health of all. Our national identity has emerged from a long-drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence,” Mukherjee said in Nagpur.

RSS Nagpura This multiplicity, “in culture, faith and language,” makes India special, he said. “We derive our strength from tolerance. We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. They have been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries.”

“Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogma, and identities of religion, region, hatred, and intolerance will only lead to the dilution of our national identity,” he explained.

Mukherjee even quoted from Nehru’s ‘Discovery of India’: “I am convinced that nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups in India.”

Ahead of today’s event, leaders of the Congress, the party Mukherjee served for decades before becoming president in 2012, asked him to reconsider his decision to attend.

In fact, the Congress today published a searing blog-post on the Sangh, saying it “was never part of the freedom struggle against the British”, and “has never had much reverence for the Indian Constitution.”

One senior party leader, Anand Sharma, tweeted before the speech: “The images of Pranab Da, veteran leader and ideologue, at [the] RSS headquarters have anguished millions of Congress workers, and all those who believed in pluralism, diversity and the foundational values of the Indian republic.”

He needn’t have worried.

Pranab Mukherjee said ahead of today’s event that he would say everything he had to say in his speech.

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