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Galaxy of leaders speak against intolerance

New Delhi: A galaxy of personalities today joined the debate on growing intolerance with music maestro Zubin Mehta speaking against “ostracising” writers and authors that would amount to cultural dictatorship while RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan said tolerance and mutual respect was necessary.

On his part, President Pranab Mukherjee yet again called for preserving the pluralistic character of the country as Prime Minister Narendra Modi said unity, peace and harmony is a first condition if India is to move forward and attain new heights of development.

The 79-year-old Mumbai-born music conductor, who lives abroad and has just concluded a multi-city concert performance in India, batted for complete freedom of expression for the writers and filmmakers saying it should be there in the world’s largest democracy.

“Our writers, our filmmakers do have a chance of speaking their minds. We should not ostracise them. Otherwise, we will become a dictatorship, a cultural dictatorship and that is inadmissible,” he said.

Mehta said: “If they write their opinion, they should not be ostracised by the government. There should be complete freedom of expression. We are the largest democracy in the world”.

He also hoped that the government “invites them for discussions and speaks to them”.

The RBI Governor used the occasion of his convocation address at the Delhi IIT to say tolerance and mutual respect was necessary to improve the environment for ideas and physical harm or verbal contempt for any particular group should not be allowed.

Asserting that India’s tradition of debate and an open spirit of enquiry is critical for economic growth, he said encouraging challenge to all authority and tradition would rule out anyone imposing a particular view or ideology because of power.