While delivering a speech at the North East Institute of Advanced Studies, former President of India Pranab Mukherjee said there is a need to encourage public involvement in issues that are of national importance and dialogue is important rather than disruption for a healthy democracy.
Mukherjee said that he is concerned about the “increase in violence” between the people with differences in the nation. He also said that there is an “utter disregard” for human life which is damaging the national harmony.
"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," Mukherjee said while delivering the lecture on the topic of ‘Tolerance in Indian Society’.
"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 is suspicion and jealousy," he added.
Mukherjee said that peaceful co-existence, compassion, respect for life and harmony with nature form the foundation in the India civilisation.
"Every time an individual, 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 is darkness, fear, and mistrust," he said in the lecture.
Mukherjee said, in a democracy, an informed and reasoned public engagement is very important and a dialogue is necessary not only to balance the two opposite sides but also to reconcile them.
"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 marginalised and the dispossessed. We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness," he also advised in the lecture.
In the lecture, Mukherjee also indirectly opposed Amit Shah’s concept of ‘One Nation, One Language’ by saying "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 'bharatiya' and have 'no enemies'. That is what makes Bharat a diverse and united nation".