Describing communalism and terrorism as a big challenge, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said the country gets a "bad name" because of some "misguided" people and asked the nation to jointly fight the menace.
"Communalism and terrorism have become a big challenge to our unity and integrity. Some misguided people of our society encourage them. But due to this, our whole society and country get a bad name. To face this challenge we will have to work together. We need to be vigilant at all times," Singh said.
He was speaking at a function held to confer the National Communal Harmony Awards.
"In our country, there has been a strong tradition of mutual tolerance and communal brotherhood. Respecting our unity and integrity is an important part of our culture. We have to keep up this tradition," he said.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, the Prime Minister said our desire for unity can be achieved only when we have a feeling of large-heartedness and love towards each other.
"It is our pious duty that we contribute to improving the social relations between different communities. In our country, peace and communal harmony is possible only with the active participation of our citizens," he said.
He insisted that all citizens should spread the message of tolerance and mutual brotherhood in all parts and corners of the country.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice President Hamid Ansari said the country needed a pervasive preventive approach to communal disharmony and a conscious programme of fostering communal harmony.
"The state has no choice but to intervene in instances of communal disharmony. Such interventions can either be preventive or corrective in nature. The general focus has remained on corrective steps due to the intense focus and interest in the wake of incidents of communal disharmony," Ansari said.
He maintained that while this is necessary, it is not sufficient. "We need a pervasive preventive approach to communal disharmony and a conscious programme of fostering communal harmony."
The National Communal Harmony Award were conferred on Mohammad Hanif Khan Shastri (for 2009), Acharya Lokesh Muni (2010) and the Centre for Human Rights and Social Harmony (2009).
Home Minister Chidambaram said the award was constituted in 1996 to recognise the contribution of those individuals and organisations who have worked to further the cause of communal harmony and national integration.