President Mukherjee, Governor Rajan and Mamata bat for religious tolerance


With growing clamour against recent incidents of intolerance across the country, President Pranab Mukherjee and RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan on Saturday emphasised for tolerance to take the country forward.

President Mukherjee said here that India has prospered due to its power to assimilate and tolerate.

“Our country has thrived due to its power of assimilation and tolerance. Our pluralistic character has stood the test of time,” Mukherjee said while speaking at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Delhi High Court at New Delhi’s Vigyan Bhavan.

“India is a country of 1.3 billion people belonging to three ethnic groups – Caucasian, Dravidian and Mongoloid – speaking 122 languages and 1,600 dialects, and professing 7 faiths,” he pointed out.

The theme of the Delhi High Court’s golden jubilee celebrations being ‘Justice for all’, he said, “it implies empowerment of the weak and equal treatment of law irrespective of one’s individual identity”.

Referring to the ancient civilisations having accommodated diversities, the president said: “Multiplicity is our collective strength which must be preserved at all costs. It finds reflection in the various provisions of our Constitution.”

At another event here, Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan said that India has always protected debate and the right to hold different views.

“Tolerance can take the offense out of a debate, and indeed instil respect. If I go berserk every time a particular button is pressed, rebels are tempted to press the button, while mischief-makers indeed do so,” Rajan said while addressing the IIT-Delhi Convocation here.

“Fortunately, India has always protected debate and the right to have different views,” Rajan said, a day after Moody’s Analytics in a report said the belligerent provocation of various Indian minorities has raised ethnic tensions.

“But if I do not react predictably, and instead ask button pressers to explain their concerns, rebels are forced to do the hard work of marshalling arguments. So, rebels do not press the button frivolously, while the mischief makers who abound in every group are left without an easy trigger.”

“After all, any ban, and certainly any vigilante acts to enforce it, may offend you as much, or more, than the offense to me. Excessive political correctness stifles progress as much as excessive license and disrespect.”

“Tolerance means not being so insecure about one’s ideas that one cannot subject them to challenge – it implies a degree of detachment that is absolutely necessary for mature debate,” the RBI governor said.

In the report titled `India Outlook: Searching for Potential’, Moody’s Analytics, a division of Moody’s Corporation, said on Friday warned of “a possible increase in violence”.

“Along with a possible increase in violence, the government will face stiffer opposition in the upper house as debate turns away from economic policy.”

Moody’s Analytics said the politics need to improve and the government’s reform agenda needs attention to achieve long-term growth.

While talking about economic growth, citing economist Robert Solow, Rajan said bulk of economic growth did not come from putting more factors of production such as labour and capital to work.

“Put differently, new ideas, new methods of production, better logistics – these are what lead to sustained economic growth.”

The report said that the Indian economy is likely to grow at 7.6 percent this year and in 2016 while closing of negative output growth is going to be difficult due to external headwinds and the government failing to deliver on reforms, it added.

“Overall, it’s unclear whether India can deliver the promised reforms and hit its growth potential. Undoubtedly, numerous political outcomes will dictate the extent of success.”

According to the report, the Indian economy is expected to grow around 7.3 percent year-on-year in September quarter which is below the expected potential of around nine or 10 percent.

In Kolkata, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said she was “saddened” at the level of intolerance in the country and encouraged people to “act for unity”.

“Saddened that there is so much intolerance today. Why so much divide and rule? Let us speak for unity, stand for unity. Let us act for unity,” Banerjee tweeted.