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Freedom to Doubt, Disagree Intellectually Must be Protected, Says President Mukherjee


First published: December 29, 2016, 5:30 PM IST | Updated: 3 mins ago

File image of President Pranab Mukherjee. (Image: PTI)

President Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday while inaugurating the 77th Session of Indian History Congress at Thiruvananthapuram said, “The freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually must be protected as an essential pillar of our democracy. Nothing should lie outside the realm of reason, and therefore of discussion and argument. Such freedom is vital for progress in any field, especially a calling and a craft like history.”

“An objective pursuit of history requires an impartial mind of a judge and not the mind of an advocate.”

“We must keep our eyes open for unfamiliar ideas and be ready to consider a range of different inferences or assumptions. This necessarily bars intolerance of contrary opinions or judgement,” he added.

On the ongoing intolerance debate in the country, President Mukherjee said: “There has been an unfortunate tendency in our country from time to time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social or cultural institutions, past or present.”

The President said that it is his firm conviction that India’s pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity are our greatest strength. “Our traditions have 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 and freedom of speech is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution,” he said.

Appreciating the work of Indian History Congress, he said: “The body has a creditable record of standing up for freedom of expression and asking historians to be faithful to the cause of reason. It has often taken cudgels against distortions of history.”

He expressed hope that the Indian History Congress will continue to remain alert and vigilant in the cause of an objective study of history.