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Religious dogma causes conflicts: President

By Neena Vyas

The Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, extending Diwali greetings to the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi on Saturday.

NEW DELHI OCT. 25. It is "not religion but religious dogma'' that has led to so many conflicts around the world. The wars and the violence among the followers of Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and Judaism were a result of religious fanaticism. Religion should "graduate into spirituality'' to bring peace to the world and peace was essential for progress, development, prosperity and happiness which would all make the world beautiful.

That was the message from the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, as his three-nation tour ended and he was received here at the Air Force station, Palam, this morning even as Diwali was being celebrated in the country.

The message about getting away from religious dogma and religious fanaticism was inspired by Mr. Kalam's visit on Friday morning to the Rila Monastery, 120 km from the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, and his meeting there with the Abbot of the Monastery, Rev. Fr. John.

The 10th century monastery — a world heritage site — is associated with the patron saint of Bulgaria, Ivan Rilski, and set amid the mountains which were aflame with autumnal colours at this time of the year.

Speaking to reporters early this morning, Mr. Kalam hoped that his visit would produce concrete results in the form of joint ventures, research collaboration and increased trade with these countries. In any exchange between India and another country it should be a "win-win situation for both''.

Even in matters of the State related to any project, the question that needed to be asked was not `what is in it for us', but how could it benefit both the countries, he said.

Officers and jawans of the Border Security Force offering sweets and fruits to the Pakistani Rangers on the occasion of Diwali at the Wagha border. — PTI

On Thursday evening, Bulgaria had expressed "high appreciation'' of the Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee's initiative in normalising and improving relations with Pakistan. Bulgaria reiterated its support for a settlement of all bilateral issues in accordance with the Shimla Agreement of 1972 and the Lahore Declaration of 1999 in a joint statement signed and released by Mr. Kalam and the Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov.

The statement marked the finale of a successful visit. Although on the Iraqi issue Bulgaria and India are not on the same side — many people here, including journalists, feel that their country is too eager to please Americans and Britons — India rejoiced at the joint statement unambiguously supporting India's candidature for a permanent seat on the Security Council.

Detailed discussions between Mr. Kalam and Mr. Parvanov, during which views were exchanged on regional and international issues and the entire gamut of Indo-Bulgarian ties, revealed a "close proximity of viewpoints'', the joint statement said. They noted the importance of "politico-diplomatic methods'' for resolving international conflicts, and both condemned the growth of terrorism "that cannot be justified on any grounds, whether political, ethnic, religious on any other. Specifically, "religious extremism'' was also mentioned as threatening international peace and security.

The statement was seen as significant in the context of Mr. Parvanov having stated earlier that the "social roots of terrorism'' have to be understood and dealt with. That was seen as not exactly in tune with India's position that terrorism in no form can be excused.

The two sides reiterated that there was an untapped potential for joint ventures in business, scientific research and other areas.

The Information Technology Minister, Arun Shourie, had indicated that by early next year a follow-up would materialise with a business delegation from India visiting Bulgaria to explore areas for joint ventures.

Mr. Shourie said that with Bulgaria expected to enter the European Union soon, Bulgaria could offer a "gateway'' to Europe for Indian manufacturing companies.

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