On Tuesday, former President Pranab Mukherjee has raised his concerned about the “increase in violence” arises out of differences among people and the “utter disregard” for human life that disables the harmony of the nation. 

While delivering a lecture at the North East Institute of Advanced Studies on its Foundation Day through video conference from Delhi, Mr. Mukherjee has said that there were needs to stimulate reasoned public engagement on all issues of national importance and talks not disordered was important for a healthy democracy. 

He further stated that “today, I notice, with great concern, there is an increase in violence arising out of differences. Consequently, our ability to co-exist in harmony has greatly suffered.”

Mr. Mukherjee continued, This type of violence not only perpetuates physical harm but mental, intellectual and socio-economic destruction as well. There is an utter disregard for the life of fellow humans; there are mistrust and hatred; there are suspicion and jealousy.”

He also said that compassion, peaceful co-existence, harmony with nature, and respect for life forms the foundation of our civilization, 

“Every time an individual, a child or woman is brutalized, the soul of India is wounded. Manifestations of rage are tearing our social fabric. Every day we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear, and mistrust,” added the Bharat Ratna Award Winner. 

While detailing tolerance, Pranab Mukherjee continued that “it is essentially a state of mind. I strongly believe that it is a manifestation of our age-old belief in Ahimsa. Ahimsa has been the core of Indian ethos and Mahatma Gandhi has been its most vocal apostle in modern times.”

He also stated, “Today, more than ever, we need to remind ourselves of that unfettering faith the Father of our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, had in Ahimsa and not just tolerance, but mutual respect. Circumstances today have forced us to ask ourselves if we have lived up to the aspirations of the Father of our Nation.”

Mr. Mukherjee advised that “we must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal. Only a non-violent society can ensure the participation of all sections of people in the democratic process, especially the marginalized and the dispossessed. We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness.”

The former President of India also said that in a democracy, reasoned and informed public engagement on all issues of national important is key and dialogues are necessary not only to balance the rising interests but also to regain them.  

Mr. Mukherjee was quoted saying, “Divergent strands in public discourse have to be recognized. We may argue, we may agree, or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Only through a dialogue can we develop the understanding to solve complex problems without an unhealthy strife within our polity.”

Noting that the soul of the nation resides in celebration and pluralism of diversity, Mr. Mukherjee said that “this plurality of our society has come through assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism and inclusion are a matter of faith for us. It is our composite culture which makes us into one nation.”

“India’s nationhood is not one language, one religion, one enemy, it is the ‘Perennial Universalism’ of 1.3 billion people who use more than 122 languages and 1600 dialects in their everyday lives, practice seven major religions, belong to three major ethnic groups- Caucasians, Mongoloids, and Dravidians live under one system, one flag and one identity of being ‘Indian’ or ‘Bhartiya’ and have ‘no enemies’. That is what makes Bharat a diverse and United Nations,” added Mr. Mukherjee.

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