"In today's times, when our country finds itself increasingly divided in the name of a narrow nationalism, the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is recognition of the values she stood for," she said in her speech read out by Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi said Sonia Gandhi has been ill but was keen to attend the function to give away the 30th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. Rahul Gandhi said he dissuaded her from attending the event and read out her speech.
"The Award reminds all of us that like her we must be undaunted, unafraid and uncompromising against the forces of darkness that seek to engulf our land," he said.
The Congress vice president and former prime minister Manmohan Singh jointly presented the award to Carnatic Music singer T M Krishna, for his exemplary services in promoting national integration.
Ms Gandhi said the idea of India that Indira Gandhi fought for has been thrown fundamentally into question by the "rising intolerance" that one witnessed today.