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President asks people to reject intolerance

Presidenti Pranab Mukherjee during the inauguration of "New Delhi World Book Fair" in New Delhi on Saturday.

The country’s history and traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative” Indian rather than an “intolerant” Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee said on saturday

Presidenti Pranab Mukherjee during the inauguration of "New Delhi World Book Fair" in New Delhi on Saturday.

President Pranab Mukherjee during the inauguration of “New Delhi World Book Fair” in New DelhiĀ 

New Delhi: The country’s history and traditions have always celebrated the “argumentative” Indian rather than an “intolerant” Indian, President Pranab Mukherjee on saturday asked people to be “uncompromising” in rejecting intolerance.

Inaugurating the World Book Fair here today, the President also stressed for doing everything possible for preserving and nurturing the ideals of a secular, multi-lingual and democratic India.

Without any reference to the recent controversy over withdrawal of a book by Penguin, the President said the freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution must be preserved.

“We must be uncompromising in rejecting intolerance, prejudice and hatred. Book fairs such as this should remind us that our history and traditions have always celebrated the ‘argumentative’ Indian and not the ‘intolerant’ Indian.

The comments of the President assume significance in the wake of Penguin making an out of court settlement for withdrawing and pulping of all copies of the book written by US author Wendy Doniger ‘Hindus and Alternative History’.

Talking about the Book Fair, the President expressed happiness about this year’s theme ‘Kathasagar: Celebrating Children’s Literature’ and said children are the best readers of literature because they do not have “patience for pretence”.

Observing that no human society can develop in all its dimensions if it does not produce meaningful literature for children and young reader, the President called upon authors, publishers and government to do their utmost to promote children’s literature.

With Poland being the guest country at the fair, Mukherjee hoped that their participation would give a boost for increased literary exchanges between the two countries.

He also lauded National Book Trust’s initiative to publish in English in association with a Polish institute an illustrated book for children titled ‘Little Chopin’ on the childhood of legendary Polish music composer Fredric Chopin.

Disagreeing with the view that books may take a backseat with the advent of Internet and other communication facilities, he said, “No technological upgradation can replace the habit” of reading books.

The challenge, he said, is to convert knowledge into a democratic force and take it into every corner of the country.

“Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country and freedom of speech is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution, For a developing country like India, india’s liberal, democratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and secular society where competing ideas and ideologies have equal spacewhich has diverse needs and aspirations, printed books and digital media must be complementary and not rival to each other there is a great hunger for knowledge in the country, the motto should be “all for knowledge and knowledge for all”.

PTI

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