NEW DELHI, July 24 - President Pranab Mukherjee today advocated freeing public discourse from violence � �physical as well as verbal� � and asserted that the country derived its strength from tolerance.
Stressing the need for �pluralism and tolerance� in his last televised address to the nation as the president, he said the capacity for compassion and empathy was the �true foundation� of the country�s civilisation.
�But everyday, we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal,� Mukherjee, who will demit office tomorrow, said in his address.
He made it clear that only a non-violent society could ensure the participation of all sections of the people, especially the marginalised and the dispossessed, in the democratic process.
�The power of non-violence has to be resurrected to build a compassionate and caring society,� Mukherjee, 81, said.
The soul of India, he emphasised, resided in �pluralism and tolerance�.
�India is not just a geographical entity. It carries a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft innovation and experience,� the president said.
Plurality had come through the �assimilation of ideas� over the centuries, he said.
�Multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance,� he added.
Not ruling out divergent stands in public discourse, he said, �We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away.�
The president reminded the people of Mahatma Gandhi�s philosophy, and said the creation of an inclusive society had to be an article of faith. � PTI