New Delhi: Asserting that pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday warned that “worst impulses of intolerance and hatred” are confronting the world and the time has come to reinforce civilisational values that bind together the country’s complex diversity.
“We are today, witnessing events without precedent: when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed. At such a time, there can be no better recourse that to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras (tradition), duties and the way of life that is the essence of India. This is the time to reinforce the civilisational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world,” he said while inaugurating the first-ever International Conference of Indologists in New Delhi.
Ever since the Dadri lynching, killing of two dalit children in Uttar Pradesh and unrelenting protest by intellectuals, scientists, film-makers and others over “rising intolerance”, Mukherjee has been appealing for tolerance and pluralism. He asked the scholars, who will be deliberating on various matters during the three-day conference, not to excessively dwell on ancient times or merely fill us with nostalgia about India’s grand past but “highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche”.
“I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche. They will surely make an important contribution to our existing body of knowledge in the area of Indology,” the President told the gathering that included 22 leading Indologists from different parts of the world as also several Indian scholars.
Mukherjee also gave away the first Distinguished Indologist Award to Prof Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr von Stietencron of Germany in recognition of his great work in Indology, which is study of India from the perspectives of history, culture, religious and languages, among others.
The award, instituted by External Affairs Ministry and Indian Council for Cultural Relations, comprises USD 20,000 and a citation. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was also present during the function.