Need to nourish India’s diversity with tolerance: Mukherjee

New Delhi, Aug 14 (IANS) President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday stressed the need to “nourish” India’s diversity with “tolerance and patience”, saying “vested interests” were chipping away at social harmony.

The president said that while the rule of law was sacrosanct, society was protected by “humanity”, also quoting Mahatma Gandhi and India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in his speech.

In his speech on the eve of the 69th Independence Day, the president said: “Our democracy is creative because it is plural, but diversity must be nourished with tolerance and patience.”

“The vested interests chip away at social harmony, in an attempt to erode many centuries of secularism. In an age of instant communication through ever-improving technology, we must remain vigilant to ensure that the devious designs of a few never overcome the essential oneness of our people,” he said.

Mukherjee said that for “both government and people, the rule of law is sacrosanct, but society is also protected by something greater than law: humanity”.

He quoted Mahatma Gandhi and said: “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”

Mukherjee said India was a “complex country of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1,600 dialects and seven religions”.

“Its strength lies in its unique capacity to blend apparent contradictions into positive affirmations.”

The president then quoted Nehru and said the country was held together “by strong but invisible threads. About her, there is the elusive quality of a legend of long ago; some enchantment seems to have held her mind. She is a myth and an idea, a dream and a vision, and yet very real and present and pervasive”.

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