Joining the chorus of protest against the ‘growing intolerance’ in the nation, former prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh on Friday expressed his concern over the recent incidents of ‘blatant violation of right to freedom of thought speech and expression’ and asserted that ‘suppression’ due to caste or creed cannot be accepted at any cost.
Speaking at the inauguration of the national conference on ‘No peace without freedom, no freedom without peace’, Dr. Singh said that he was deeply saddened by the rampant assault on thinkers.
“All right thinking people have condemned this recent assault on nationhood. Murder of thinkers can’t be justified and suppression of dissent can’t be allowed. Religion could never become the basis for public policy and should not be imposed on anyone. Any erosion of diversity will weaken our nation. Peace is important for economic growth and core values of the Indian republic are under threat,” he said.
Invoking the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Singh further said the prerequisite for innovation, entrepreneurship and competition is an ‘open society and a liberal polity ‘where individuals are free to pursue their ideas.
“Suppression of dissent or free speech poses a grave danger for economic development. There can be no free market without freedom,” he said.
Dr. Singh’s comments come at a time when the nation is ripe with protests and agitations over the murder of literary icon M.M. Kalburgi, the Dadri lynching case and the recent Dalit murders.
The former prime minister was part of the Congress delegation led by party president Sonia Gandhi that had marched to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to express concern over the ‘growing intolerance’ in the country, alleging that those in power are attempting to spread hatred and divide the society.