Nagpur: Former President and Congress veteran Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday warned that any attempt to define India through “religion, dogma or intolerance” will only dilute the country’s existence.
“I am here amongst you to share my understanding with you of the concepts of nation, nationalism and patriotism in the context of India… Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogma and identities or religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our identity. In India, we derive our strength from tolerance. We respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. We must free our public discourse from all kinds of fear and violence. As Gandhi ji said Indian nationalism was not exclusive nor aggressive nor destructive…,” he said.
“It was this very nationalism that Pandit Nehru so vividly expressed in the book ‘Discovery of India’, he wrote – ‘I am convinced that nationalism can only come out of the ideological fusion of Hindu, Muslims, Sikhs and other groups in India’ – Indian nationalism emanated from universalism, we see the whole world as one family… We believe in collective conscience for centuries… For us, democracy isn’t a gift but a sacred trust. The Indian Constitution isn’t an instrument for administration but a Magna-Carta for social transformation: Our nationalism flows from our Constitution and this gives us the ability to self-correct ourselves,” Mukherjee added.
He pointed out, “Secularism is a matter of faith for us… Multiplicity in faith and languages makes India special. Nationalism flows from our constitution… Indian nationalism was not exclusive, was not destructive. Pandit Nehru said – ‘Indian nationalism only comes from a congregation of Hindus, Muslims and all other religions’… Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special.”
Shiksha Varg is an annual training camp, meant for swayamsevaks in their third year in the organisation. The RSS holds training camps for first, second and third-year swayamsewaks.
Earlier, Pranab Mukherjee visited the birthplace of the RSS founding Sarsanghachalak Keshav Baliram Hedgewar at the Sangh headquarters. He was welcomed by the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat. “Today I came here to pay my respect and homage to a great son of Mother India,” the former president wrote in the visitor’s book.