New Delhi: Amid the big debate across the country, intolerance found mention today in President Pranab Mukherjee's address to the nation of the eve of Republic Day.
"We must guard ourselves against the forces of violence, intolerance and unreason," the President said. It was time to take note, he said, when "grim instances of violence hit at...established values which are at the core of our nationhood,"
A respect for the past was an essential ingredient of nationalism, he said, adding, "Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensure to all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity."
The President said to complain, to demand, to rebel. "This too is a virtue of democracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. With investments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science and technology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growth rate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty," he said.
The President said January 26, 1950, when the Republic was born and Constitution was adopted, it saw the culmination of heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcame colonialism to establish the world's largest democracy.
"They pulled together India's amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far. The enduring democratic institutions they established have given us the gift of continuity on the path of progress," he said.
The President also touched upon the issue of dialogue with Pakistan, pointing out that terror and talks cannot go hand in hand.
Nations, he pointed out, will never agree on everything. "But the challenge today is existential. If outlaws are able to unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos... We cannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets."