Against the backdrop of recent communal violence in Muzaffarnagar, Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde today said every citizen of the country has the right to live with his or her individual faith.
"Every citizen of our country has a right to live with his or her individual faith, yet keep the identity of being Indian supreme and above all other considerations. Let us pledge to uphold this right," he said, addressing a national communal harmony awards function here.
Shinde said the occasion should be marked as a festival of love, peace and tolerance for all-inclusive development of the nation.
The Home Minister said India is a nation of diverse cultures, languages, and religions and in spite of this diversity, the invisible but all-pervasive thread of being 'Indian' keeps everyone united.
"It is, therefore, our foremost duty to keep this torch of unity shining bright under all circumstances. The tradition of communal harmony, tolerance and mutual respect have always been the distinguishing features of our civilisation and polity," he said.
Shinde said this tradition continues even today and the democracy can prosper and flourish only with strict adherence to secularism.
"I personally feel that the noblest of all religions is the religion of humanity," he said.
The National Foundation for Communal Harmony, which gives the awards, was established in 1992 to promote communal harmony and strengthen national integration. The Foundation extends financial support to the child victims of communal, caste, ethnic or terrorist violence for their care, rehabilitation and education.