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'A global jugalbandi between Bharat vasi and Bharat vanshi'
Josy Joseph in New Delhi |
January 10, 2003 15:32 IST
Nudged by Lady Nadira Naipaul from amongst the audience, Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani made a passionate commitment to secularism saying equality of all religions was a tradition that "we hold dear and are proud of."
He said he was 'sad and ashamed' at the Gujarat riots, and termed it as an aberration that must be left behind.
At the end of his speech, he expressed his willingness to take questions from the audience.
Lady Nadira, a Pakistani married to Nobel laureate Sir Vidia, asked him about the doubts that some people have expressed over India's commitment to secularism. She referred to the speech of Lord Navneet Dholakia where he had repeatedly referred to the need to protect multi-culturalism.
Advani admitted that several quarters felt the 'present government is concerned only about Hindus, and not about Muslims, Christians, Parsis, and other minorities.' "There cannot be any more unfair comment," he asserted.
He recalled that despite the presence of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the nation was witness to gruesome killings all over during the partition in 1947.
Reacting to the criticism over dual citizenship being granted to Indians in only select countries, Advani said the government took the decision based on two factors:
He said in the recent times, internal security and external security have got intermingled, and this guided the government in its decision to grant dual citizenships to Indians in only seven countries.
Advani said the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations marked the 'happy confluence' of two things: the coming of age of India, and the coming of age of Indians outside India.
The three-day festival was a "global jugalbandi between Bharat vasi and Bharat vanshi (global interaction between resident Indians and Persons of Indian Origin)."
Advani said the 20th century belonged to the West, especially to the US, the UK and, for a while, to Russia. According to experts the 21st century will be the century of the East, and "it must be our endeavor to make it an Indian century."
The present government, he said, would do everything possible to ensure that no one leaves India out of compulsion as it had happened throughout history.
Pravasi Bharatiya Divas