KOLKATA: President Pranab Mukherjee today underlined the need for respecting the sensitivities of the minorities and said effort should be made to maintain an atmosphere where every community finds a space in the national narrative.
"We must encourage a broad human outlook in all our citizens and educate them to rise above caste or communal loyalties. We must learn to respect the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit," he said while delivering the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture of the Asiatic Society here.
"We must strive to maintain an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative," he said and called for cultivation of a secular and democratic outlook and promote a way of life that was inclusive and did not interfere with civic duties and rights as well as responsibilities of individuals. He also warned against regional interests overtaking commitment to national interest.
"Sometimes, it does happen that regional interests overtake our commitment to the national interest. We have to guard against any such tendency," the President said.
He said that while all Indian languages must receive encouragement and support, in a linguistically plural society some accommodation in favour of the national imperatives would always be required. Knowledge about different religions and great saints who took birth here should be part and parcel of everyone's education, he said, adding that focus should remain on raising the standard of living and reducing existing disparities in power, wealth, income, consumption and utilisation of social services like education or health.
Mukherjee said the state must do its best to reduce regional imbalances and provide a just, fair and good administration which would ensure equal treatment to every citizen irrespective of his caste, religion, race, colour, sex or place of birth. Calling for maintaining an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative, Mukherjee said national integration demands that every citizen recognise the primacy of national interest over group or individual interests.
Appreciating the role of Asiatic Society, the President said it was founded by Willian Jones and was declared an Institution of National importance by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 through an Act of Parliament.
"It can be said that the revival of India's spirit originated here. The world's attention was drawn to India's philosophical thought, literature, mathematics, astronomy, and scientific investigations," he said.