On nationalism, democracy and India's social fabric: Top quotes from Pranab Mukherjee's speech at RSS headquarters

Congress veteran and former president Pranab Mukherjee spoke from an RSS platform to express concern over "manifestations of rage" tearing country's social fabric and asserted the importance of a non-violent society.

Ahead of the address to the new recruits of the organisation, the 82-year-old had sparked criticism from some Congress leaders including his daughter. At the event, he cautioned that any attempt to define India through "religion, dogma or intolerance" will only dilute the country's existence.

Former president Pranab Mukherjee and RSS' Mohan Bhagwat. PTI

Former president Pranab Mukherjee and RSS' Mohan Bhagwat. PTI

Mukherjee's speech prompted Congress to shower him with words of appreciation and hit back at the RSS. In a statement, party spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said that Mukherjee showed "the mirror of truth" to the Sangh by reminding them of India's "pluralism, tolerance, secularism, and inclusiveness" as an article of faith and soul of the country.

Here is a look at the top quotes from Mukherjee's speech:

- "We accept and respect our pluralism. We celebrate our diversity. These have been a part of our collective consciousness for centuries. Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity."

- "When Bal Gangadhar Tilak gave voice to the phrase coined by Barrister Joseph Baptista, 'Swaraj is my birthright and I shall have it', he referred to Swaraj for the Indian people encompassing various castes, creeds, and religions, spread across British India, and princely states. This 'nation' and 'nationalism' was not bound by geography, language, religion, or race."

- "For us, democracy is not a gift, but a sacred trust. The Indian Constitution, consisting of 395 articles and 12 schedules, is not merely a legal document but a Magna Carta of (the) socio-economic transformation of the country. It represents the hopes and aspirations of the billion plus Indians. From our constitution flows our nationalism. "

- "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 1,600 dialects in their everyday lives, practice seven major religions, belong to three major ethnic groups — Aryans, Mongoloids, and Dravidians live under one system, one flag and one identity of being ‘Bhartiya’ and have ‘no enemies’."

- "A dialogue is necessary not only to balance the competing interests but also to reconcile them. Divergent stands in public discourse have to be recognised. We may argue, we may agree, or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion."

Word cloud of the most common words in Pranab Mukherjee's speech.

Word cloud of the most common words in Pranab Mukherjee's speech.

- "Every time a child or woman is brutalised, 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 are darkness, fear, and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence — physical as well as verbal."

- "We have lived with pain and strife for long enough. You are young, disciplined, well trained and highly educated. Please wish for peace, harmony, and happiness. Our Motherland is asking for that. Our Motherland deserves that."

- "Happiness is fundamental to the human experience of life. To lead healthy, happy, and productive lives is the basic right of our citizens."

- "People are at the centre of all activities of the state and nothing should be done to divide the people and create animosity amongst them. The aim of the state should be to galvanise them to fight a concerted war against poverty, disease, and deprivation and to convert economic growth into real development. Let the objective of spreading peace, harmony, and happiness inform the formulation of our public policy and guide all the actions of our state and citizens in their everyday life."


Updated Date: Jun 08, 2018 12:49 PM

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