20 Apr 2016

We should be vigilant against forces that seek to exploit our diversity in religion, language and culture to divide our people: Vice President 


Gives away the Chisti India Harmony Awards 2015 

The Vice President of India, Shri M. Hamid Ansari has said that we should be vigilant against forces that seek to exploit our diversity in religion, language and culture to divide our people. He was speaking, here today, after giving away the Chisti India Harmony Awards 2015 instituted by India Harmony Foundation. 

The Vice President said that our constitutional values of secularism and liberty of thought, expression, faith and worship are, premised on the existential reality of our society and India has, for centuries, provided a unique social and intellectual environment in which many distinct religions have not only co-existed peacefully but have also enriched each other. Thus, religious harmony and acceptance, and not mere tolerance, are the bedrock of India’s secularism and composite culture, he added. He further said that it is the solemn duty of the Government to make every possible effort to protect and promote secular values and provide equality of opportunity to all religion. 

The Vice President congratulated the awardees - Shri Kuldeep Nayar, Eminent Journalist; Shri Narendra Luther, Historian and former Bureaucrat; Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi, Eminent Poet and Ms. Rana Safvi, Litterateur. He also commended the India Harmony Foundation for giving away these awards and for continuing their work in celebrating the Indian multi-culturalism. 

Following is the text of Vice President’s address: 

“I am very happy to be here today to present the Chisti India Harmony awards for the year 2015. These awards are among the most visible of the philanthropic activities undertaken by the India Harmony Foundation. The foundation was established by Late Shri Zafar Saifullah, former Cabinet Secretary, who represented the best of the syncretic culture of India and who devoted himself to building bridges between communities - a task that the Foundation has admirably continued. 

Our constitutional values of secularism and liberty of thought, expression, faith and worship are, however, premised on the existential reality of our society. India has been home to all the great religions of the world. While some were born here, others took root in this ancient land of ours. India has, for centuries, provided a unique social and intellectual environment in which many distinct religions have not only co-existed peacefully but have also enriched each other. Thus, religious harmony and acceptance, and not mere tolerance, are the bedrock of India’s secularism and composite culture. It is the solemn duty of the Government to make every possible effort to protect and promote secular values and provide equality of opportunity to all religion. 

Gandhiji, the father of the nation, once said that 

“Communalism of the virulent type is a recent growth. The lawlessness is a monster with many faces. It hurts all, in the end, including those who are primarily responsible for it.” 

We should be vigilant against such forces that seek to exploit our diversity in religion, language and culture to divide our people. We have to remain alert and raise our voice against groups and individuals who use violence in the name of religion. This is the sacred duty of every true Indian. These awards celebrate the work of individuals who have devoted their lives to promoting harmony and building bridges between communities. The awardees today, and their outstanding work, need no introduction. 

I offer my congratulations to the awardees - Shri Kuldeep Nayar, Shri Narendra Luther, Pandit Anand Mohan Zutshi or Gulzar Dehlvi as he is popularly known and Ms. Rana Safvi. I commend the India Harmony Foundation for giving away these awards and for continuing their work in celebrating the Indian multi-culturalism. 

Jai Hind.” 

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