President Pranab Mukherjee today said intolerance and violence is a betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy and slammed those who believe in the "poison drip of inflammatory provocation". In his Independence Day-eve address to the nation, he referred to bigotry and noted that an increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers "in our region and beyond".
"Though an ancient civilisation, India is a modern nation with modern dreams. Intolerance and violence is a betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy. Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India's values or even its present political impulses. Indians know that progress, economic or social, is difficult without peace," Mukherjee said. The President's remarks assume significance in the context of rising incidents of communal violence in the country.
He recalled Maratha king Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb when he imposed 'jizya'. He told the emperor that Shah Jehan, Jehangir and Akbar could also have levied this tax "but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts, as they considered all men, high and low, created by God to be examples of the nature of diverse creeds and temperaments". Mukherjee said the 17th century epistle of Shivaji carries a message, which is universal. It must become a living testament that guides our behaviour today. "We can least afford to forget this message at a time when an increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers in our region and beyond, some clearly visible, and some crawling out of the debris of unprecedented turmoil," he said.
Strongly disapproving of disruptions in Parliament, President Pranab Mukherjee today said the need of the hour is to restore the grandeur and glory of institutions that have sustained democracy. "I sometimes wonder: has our democracy become too noisy? Have we lost the heart of contemplation and calm thinking? Is is not the time to restore the grandeur and glory of our institutions that have sustained and nourished our beautiful democracy. Should not Parliament become the great hall of sombre thought and well debated legislation? Should not our courts of law become temples of justice? This calls for collective action by all the stakeholders," the President said in his Independence day-eve address to the nation.
He said freedom is a celebration and independence is a challenge. In the 68th year of freedom, India has reaffirmed the power of individual and collective liberties by electing through a remarkably peaceful electoral process, a stable government with a clear majority for a single party after three decades.
Mukherjee said the increase in voter turnout to 66 percent from 58 per cent in the last elections showed the vitality of democracy. "This achievement has given us an opportunity to take up the challenge of governance by reforming the policies, practices and systems of governance so that the enormous aspirations of our people can be fulfilled with vision, commitment, integrity, speed and administrative capability," he said.
Watch the President's address here: