Modern value of secularism embedded in our freedom struggle, Constitution: N. Ram

The quality of Indian secularism is one of the gifts of this extraordinary nation to the world, said Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Speaking at a public reception here on Tuesday, Most Rev. Welby said, “In India it [secularism] seems to be welcoming, and an embracing of faiths, the willingness to deal with difference without hating each other.” Pointing to the “convincing” and “strong” pursuit of policymaking towards welfare of minorities by the new Central government, he said, “A country that does not succumb to majoritarianism but respects its minorities will itself be doubly blessed.”

Stressing the need for coping with issues pertaining to reconciliation, he said, “Reconciliation is a stony path. In many places, historic divides need overcoming. And that would always be painful. It would require admitting the humanity of your enemy, and it would require being willing to walk with them in pain and suffering. And I know very few countries where this has happened to any great degree either in the West or here or anywhere else.”

“A society that finds reconciliation is far more beautiful than the society that simply stops fighting. It demonstrates to the world that there is hope despite our differences.”

N. Ram, Chairman, Kasturi and Sons, said the modern value of secularism was “embedded in our freedom struggle, in our Constitution and in our democratic institutions.”

He, however, added that there had been distressing instances of violence, assault, bigotry in the country. “India cannot pretend that the spirit of toleration and reconciliation reigns everywhere. Yet the situation is clearly better than that in Pakistan. We must be realistic. We need to be optimistic that the idea of India’s historic civilisation will prevail,” said Mr. Ram.

Prince of Arcot Nawab Mohammad Abdul Ali expressed optimism about Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s policy decisions to promotion of secularism, communal harmony and peace. “We hope and pray that no government can brush aside the minority community and consider itself successful. India is one, and Indians are one,” he said.

The Prince said the visit of the Archbishop would help in strengthening ties and pave way for better understanding among all people and religious communities in India.

British Deputy High Commissioner in Chennai Bharat Joshi said the lessons learnt on secularism and “peaceful co-existence” from India could be adopted in other parts of the world too.

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