Secularism is in the blood of Indian people, former vice president Venkaiah Naidu has said, asserting that minorities are more safe and secure in India than in many countries including in the United States.
Naidu, 74, addressed a gathering of Indian Americans at a reception hosted in his honour by the National Council of Asian Indian Associations in the Greater Washington DC area on Monday.
“All propaganda is going on (against India). Certain sections of the Western media also. They joined this propaganda about India, about the security and safety of minorities. I want to tell those people that minorities are more safe and secure in India than here,” he said.
“You see what's happening in India and what's happening in other countries. But, you know, discrimination is going on,” he said.
Naidu has been in the US for the last few days. Over the weekend, he addressed a gathering of Indian American doctors in Philadelphia.
He said India respects its minorities.
“Those who wanted to go to Pakistan have already left (the country). Those who wanted to stay here, are here in India... secularism is there in India because it's in the blood of Indian people,” he said.
In an apparent reference to Pakistan, Naidu warned the neighbouring country against interfering in the internal affairs of India and said Kashmir is an integral part of India.
In his keynote address to the 41st annual American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) over the weekend, Naidu stressed the importance of changes in lifestyle for healthy living.
He urged AAPI members to give back to their native place and highlighted the importance of taking care of one's motherland.
“AAPI's programmes are more centered around addressing the issues related to the stigma of mental illness and the importance of the practices such as meditation, and yoga, which is a connectivity between the body and the mind,” he said.
At the reception hosted by the National Council of Asian Indian Associations, Sikhs of America felicitated Naidu for working towards the welfare of Sikhs in India.