President Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday insisted that India’s pluralism and her social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are the greatest strength of its citizens. Addressing the nation on the eve of the 67th Republic Day, President Mukherjee said, ‘It is my firm conviction that India’s pluralism and her social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are our greatest strength’ ‘Our tradition has always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian; not the ‘intolerant’ Indian. Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country,’ he added.
Asserting that a wise and discerning mind is necessary for a democracy to flourish, the President said that more than the unison of ideas, a healthy democracy calls for conformity to the values of tolerance, patience and respect for others.
‘These values must reside in the hearts and minds of every Indian; inculcating in them a temperament of understanding and responsibility,’ he said. He also said that born in independent India, three generations of citizens do not carry the baggage of colonial past. ‘These generations have had the privilege of acquiring education, pursuing opportunities and chasing dreams in a free nation. This sometimes makes it easy for them to take freedom for granted; to forget the price that extraordinary men and women paid to win this freedom; to forget that the tree of freedom needs constant care and nourishment,’ he said.
‘Democracy has conferred rights on each one of us. But along with these rights, come responsibilities which have to be discharged,’ he added.
The President also quoted Mahatma Gandhi wherein he said ‘The highest form of freedom carries with it the greatest measure of discipline and humility. Freedom that comes from discipline and humility cannot be denied; unbridled license is a sign of vulgarity injurious alike to self and others.’
President Mukherjee further insisted that youth, in the present time, are brimming with hope and aspirations. ‘They (youth) pursue their life goals, which they perceive will bring them fame, success and happiness, with single-minded devotion. They consider happiness as their existential objective, which of course is understandable. They search for happiness in the highs and lows of day-to- day emotions, and in the fulfillment of the objectives they have set for themselves. They look for a job as well as a purpose in life,’ he said.
‘Lack of opportunities leads to frustration and unhappiness which manifests itself in anger, anxiety, stress and aberrations in behaviour. This has to be dealt with by inculcating pro-social behaviour through gainful employment, active engagement with community, parental guidance, and empathetic response from a caring society,’ he added.