During a convocation address, the outgoing Vice President of India, Hamid Ansari, called on India to promote tolerance, pluralism, and secularism so the country could continue as a well functioning democracy. Specifically, Ansari called for the rights of Dalits, Christians, and Muslims to be secured as the country continues to become more and more religiously intolerant. Attacks on religious minorities and their places of worship have skyrocketed in recent years. Many observers blame this rise in violence on the inability of the current BJP-led government to confront radical Hindu nationalists organizations operating across India. Will the government listen to the outgoing Vice President’s call for tolerance?
08/07/2017 India (Times of India) – Outgoing Vice President Hamid Ansari underlined the essentially of pluralism and secularism in a well-functioning democracy, while delivering the convocation address at the 25th Annual Convocation of the premier National Law School of India University (NLSIU), Bengaluru, on Sunday.
Ansari said equality of status and opportunity had to be substantive, rather than formal. The equality of both the minority and majority must be shaped through measures of affirmative action, he added.
“This is important so that the journey on the path to development has a common starting point. This would be an effective way of giving shape to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy of Sab ka Saath, Sab ka Vikas,” he said.
Talking about nationalism, Ansari said, “Tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society. It must be coupled with understanding and acceptance. The challenge is to look beyond stereotypes and preconceptions that prevent us from accepting others.”
“It has to become an essential national virtue to promote harmony transcending sectional diversities. The urgency of giving this practical shape at the national, state and local levels, through various suggestions in the public domain, is highlighted by enhanced apprehensions of insecurity among segments of our citizen body, particularly Dalits, Muslims and Christians,” he added.
Commenting on the immediacy with which action had to be taken to accommodate the interests of various communities and cultural groups, Ansari said “a culture of silence has yielded to protests.”