Mr Narayanan has also cautioned that economic reforms should not ignore the weaker majority, the SCs, STs and the women. The policies and programmes for bettering the lot of the marginalised sections of the society, he has stressed, should be strengthened, expanded and implemented with sincerity.
In his farewell address to the nation on Wednesday, he said the country’s unity and the democratic order “that has elicited a sense of admiration from the world” should be safeguarded, adding, “at the base of our unity is our tradition of tolerance, religious tolerance and communal and social amity”.
Pained by the Gujarat riots , he quoted elaborately from Vivekananda, Gandhiji and Nehru who all, he said, had stressed communal harmony.
Recalling Nehru’s letter to the CMs during the communcal riots post-partition, in which he had asked them to ensure the safety of the Muslims and expressed concern about world opinion looking at the country “with distrust and certain degree of contempt” had cautioned that “pure self-interest, apart from moral considerations, demands that the world opinion should be on our side in the matter of treatment of minorities”, he said the words are relevant “even today” and can be ignored “at our risk”.
“It is important for us today to introspect and realise that what makes India’s unity and democracy credible and enduring is this precious tradition of tolerance,” he said.
Recalling his days as a student in his native Uzhavoor village in Kerala, he said people belonging to different religions lived together without any sort of tension. The upper class Hindus as well as the well-to-do Christians encouraged and helped him in his early studies, he said. “It is up to our social and political leaders to present the people with such occasions, especially today when the poison of communalism has caused so much violence and hatred in some parts of our country. We need the Hindus who form the majority to speak out in the traditional spirit of the Hindu religion,” he said.