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Debate on intolerance gains momentum

By The Assam Tribune

NEW DELHI, Oct 31 - 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 were 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.

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

Reacting to his speech, BJP leader Subramanian Swamy tweeted: �He (Rajan) should go to RBI and do his job; He shouldn�t speak like a grandfather.� Swamy said he has made a mess of the RBI and the Prime Minister should sack him. �Tolerance of what? Tolerance of terrorism,� he asked.

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram asked: �Will the BJP say that Pranab Mukherjee�s and Raghuram Rajan�s speeches today against intolerance are also manufactured protest?�

BJP spokesman Sambit Patra said, �We welcome his statement. There is tolerance and that is why we are progressing.�

The President, who had on a number of occasions spoken against growing intolerance in the last three weeks, once again called for preserving the multiplicity and pluralistic character of the country.

Speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Delhi High Court here, he said India has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. �Our country has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. Our pluralistic character has stood the test of time. Our ancient civilisation has over the centuries accommodated our diversities.

�Multiplicity is our collective strength which must be preserved at all costs. It finds reflection in the various provisions of our Constitution,� Mukherjee said.

Speaking at a function to flag off the �Run for Unity� on the occasion of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel�s 140th birth anniversary, the Prime Minister said unity is our biggest strength. �We have to move forward with the mantra of unity, peace and harmony,� he said.

Modi said if 125 crore Indians with the mantra of unity, peace and harmony walk one step together shoulder to shoulder, then the country will move 125 crore steps at one go.

�Our strength is a nation bound together by unity and which can sacrifice everything for unity and this is the message of Sardar sahab,� he said, recalling that Patel�s life was dedicated to national unity.

Reacting to his speech, the Left parties said the Prime Minister should know that these values were being threatened by the Sangh Parivar, and that he should crack the whip on them. � PTI

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