Tolerance for contrary views essential for pluralistic society: President

New Delhi: Underlining that diversity is a “double-edged sword”, President Pranab Mukherjee today said people, especially youth, should inculcate the values of tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience which are essential in a pluralistic society like India.

Pluralism and tolerance have been the hallmark of country’s civilisation, he said, adding that India can thrive on its plurality if there is greater understanding and appreciation among countrymen about each other’s cultures, tastes and habits.

“Diversity is a double-edged sword. If all of us work together in harmony with unity of purpose, we can achieve tremendous heights as a nation. However, if different strands pull apart in different directions, it will only negate the good,” he said.

“Let our diversity continue to be our strength,” Mukherjee said.

The President was speaking at the conclusion of the 10-day cultural festival ‘Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav’ organised by the Ministry of Culture.

Quoting former Prime Minister late Jawharlal Nehru, who called India a country held together by strong, but invisible threads, Mukherjee said, the country is a “multi-faceted nation of 1.3 billion people, 122 languages, 1,600 dialects and seven religions and yet existing under one system, one flag, one Constitution and one type of administration.”

“In a pluralistic society, the values of tolerance, respect for contrary views and patience are essential in our citizens, particularly the youth,” he said.

The President said more the exchanges and interactions between the people, the greater will be the knowledge and understanding of one another.

“Particularly, the youth of our country – the internet generation — who are also exposed to the world outside must know and learn to value their own roots. This is particularly relevant as there is growing inquisitiveness in the western world and outside about ancient Indian culture, which is a rich source of spiritual inspiration,” he said.

Speaking at the occasion, Mahesh Sharma, Union Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, rued that despite having all the elements like the Himalayas, a long coastline, and rich flora and fauna, India has been able to attract only 0.68 per cent of global tourism.