NEW DELHI: Carnatic music vocalist TM Krishna, who received the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration on Tuesday, made a veiled attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots, saying "a leader who does not have the humility to apologise for genocide under his watch" does not help to integrate.
He also rued that "national integration has been replaced by an ugly form of nationalism and jingoism".
Lauding former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for apologising for the 1984 riots, he termed it a "reflective and essential statement".
"Some detractors may say it does not change anything. It cannot change the past, but it definitely, certainly changes the future. A leader who doesn't have the humility to apologise for genocide under his watch, does not integrate," said Krishna in his speech at the 30th Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
He also regretted that in the new millennium, this idea of national integration lost its "sheen", with instead of "socially equalising legislations, such as the RTI of 2005 and NREGA", it has been replaced by "an ugly form of nationalism, jingoism".
"We are being told what to eat, wear, say, think and be. One monolithic order is being forced on us as Indian culture," he said, stressing that there was no one Indian culture, but several Indian cultures, with "the plurality is the signifier of integration".
"We are facing one of the greatest challenges posed to our democracy, Constitution, plurality, citizenship and socialism. These cornerstones of India are being subverted, dismantled, maligned and morphed right before our eyes. The methods being used are not secretive anymore," he said.
Krishna also said dissenters have been killed, and all of us who resist are being warned. "If there is any time that national integration needs to be brought back into the public thought, is is today. There is no time to waste," said.
"This integration is not just about religious minorities, it is as much about Dalits, tribals, ethnic and linguistic minorities.
"The basic fabric of India is its cultures and if we allow that to be poisoned, we would have placed on the sacrificial altar our entire civilizational consciousness. The battle will be lost," he added.