JAIPUR: There is no force that can "take away" the freedom that is guaranteed to us by the idealism of our forefathers and is endorsed by the Constitution which is our strength, senior JD(U) leader Pavan K Verma said here on Saturday.
Speaking at a session on 'Culture and Resilience' at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), he said there was a 'sarkari' version of culture that comes head-on with the culture as lived by people for centuries which does not validate hate as the only recognition of India.
The author and diplomat-turned-politician said people who kill others publically chanting 'Jai Shri Ram slogans' did not know their cultural roots.
The Constitution of India guarantees the freedom of expression which is the foundation of creativity.
All those who reject that freedom reject creativity, Verma said.
"There is no force that can take away that freedom that is guaranteed to us by the idealism of our forefathers who fought for our freedom struggle and is endorsed by the Constitution which is our strength," he said.
Verma said it was important to know one's culture in order to fight for what was wrong.
"In the recent time there has been a distortion of the Maryada Purushottam Lord Ram. Today, we have people lynching others in public places chanting 'Jai Shri Ram' slogans which is a travesty of distortion because they don't know their cultural roots," the JD(U) leader said.
"There is a sarkari version of culture and even worse there is a distorted version of sarkari version. The government translation of culture comes head-on with the culture as lived by people for centuries which does not validate hate as the only recognition of India.
"It validates love, understanding and inclusion. It is a lived culture and cannot be imposed. What is being imposed is the division," he said.
Invoking Jawaharlal Nehru, Verma said the country's first prime minister in his first letter to the chief ministers in 1948 had said coexistence was not an option but a compulsion in India.
"It has been a recent trend when your identity as a citizen is linked to your religion. If the prime minister says that you can identify protesters by their clothes, then somewhere you are emphasising the religious identity of the protesters to which the protesters themselves have given a resounding and befitting reply.
"That we are not Hindus or Muslims. We are Indians and will be fighting as Indians. That is the answer. We have our respective faiths. We respect all faiths, but we have always been Indians first," he asserted.
Verma said it was happening because of the irresponsible spokespeople who speak of a 'Hindu Rashtra'.
He said India was not for the Hindus alone, but for Indians, irrespective of their faith.
He also said Mahatma Gandhi was not only a saint but also a genius who could effortlessly bridge high culture in terms of nobility of thought and had the ability to bridge personal faith with personal belief.
About the uniform civil code, Verma said it was a "very serious business" that cannot be used to selectively target one religion for reform and ignore the reforms required to be done at other religions.
"Do not use it for selective targeting as if all the evils are in that religion," he said.
Verma said there was a need to say no to intolerance, hatred, violence and to the policies of division to create cultural diversity and resilience for the future.