New Delhi: On the occasion of 71st Independence Day, Chief Justice of India (CJI) Jagdish Singh Khehar on Tuesday stated that every citizen should be proud of his or her religion while being equally proud of their Indian identity.
Speaking at an Independence Day function organised by the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) here, Khehar said, “Whether it is Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians, Muslims or Jains, everybody should be proud of his own religion to be an Indian. Everybody should be proud of his own ethnicity. Proud of being an Indian and that is what the Constitution is all about”.
Highlighting the importance of being true to one’s roots, the CJI pointed out the humble beginnings of the nation’s top leaders. “After being a citizen, you are neither inferior nor superior to anyone. You are no less or more than anyone else. We have an agriculturalist as our vice president who started his political career by pasting party posters.
We have a prime minister who used to be a tea vendor at one point. The Chief Justice of India was not a citizen of this country to start with, but when he became the citizen of this country, he was equal to everybody else and had equal opportunities. This is what citizenship or independence is. The freedom to all to achieve their hopes, ambitions, desires,” he said.
The CJI later asserted that he was born as a citizen of Kenya and was welcomed in India with open arms. Meanwhile, Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, who was also present at the event, said one of the major achievements of India’s independence was that it did not become a theocracy.
“I hold a very firm view that India is not secular because the Constitution says so. The word ‘secularism’ was added to the Preamble only during Emergency.
India is secular because India’s heritage is secular. That flows from the great Rig Veda. Truth is one, wise men interpret it in different manners,” Prasad said.
Remembering the unsung heroes of the freedom movement, Prasad said by celebrating this day it is the best way of showing respect. “I would advise you to take a holiday in Andaman along with your children. Go to the Cellular jail where you can find a lot of names who have spent 10, 15 to 20 years there. (Veer) Savarkar, I always visit his cell.
His brother died there. Do you know where their family is? If you remember them, it will be the best way of showing respect to their contribution,” he added.