New Delhi: Amid the debate on intolerance, Minister of State for Finance Jayant Sinha on Friday said government will do its utmost to protect the constitutional rights of freedom of expression and religion, which are "non-negotiable".
"It is our sacred responsibility to protect the rights and privileges that are in the Constitution. Among them are
freedom of speech and expression, freedom of religion and to eat what we want.
"Those rights are non-negotiable. Those rights are rights we have to defend and what is even better is that we have a very very capable and active judicial system (to protect them)," Sinha said at a seminar in New Delhi.
The minister was responding to the issues of social disquiet and violence raised by senior Congress leader and former commerce minister Anand Sharma.
Sharma in his address said India has a lot of potential but investors, both domestic and foreign, would be hesitant if there are disturbances and riots.
"If there is social disquiet, if there is unrest, if there are riots, if there is violence, Indian industry itself will be hesitant, let alone outsiders coming and investing here.
"Nobody will go where there is trouble. So its important for us to keep what we inherited. Let's protect it, let's
nurture it in the interest of the country," Sharma said.
Sinha asserted that the Constitution is a "social and philosophical" document which the elected leadership is "sworn to protect".
Sharma said there should be humility among the people in power.
"Our strength has been of charcha and chintan (debate and discussion). To discuss, to reflect, to debate, to dissent. Today what is disturbing, in the largest democracy, is that dissent is being frowned upon. Unification of the country is being confused and distorted with uniformity...," Sharma said.
He further said there was a need to get over the partisan gridlock and finger pointing and serve the nation to the best of the ability in a bipartisan manner.