Evoking the legacy of first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vice President Md. Hamid Ansari termed it the most effective way to fight religious deformations in thought and practice. Releasing a book on Nehru in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, VP Hamid Ansari emphasised that his thoughts are more relevant in the country now, particularly in the backdrop of the dangers from religious superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism.
“Pandit Nehru left an indelible mark on the making of modern India. The Indian Constitution owes much of its liberal and progressive characters to the foresight and vision of leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru,” he said.
Calling Jawaharlal Nehru as one of the titans of the national movement and the architect of modern India, the Vice President said Nehru’s dynamic and towering leadership and progressive ideas richly “deserve to be recalled and evaluated”.
“Nehru’s services were many sided and a discussion on this is required, particularly in the backdrop of the dangers from religious superstition, obscurantism and fundamentalism at the present moment,” VP Ansari said.
Speaking further at the occasion, which was attended by Kerala Governor Justice (Rtd) P Sathasivam and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, the Vice President stressed that one of the most important contributions of Nehru was the firm anchoring of secularism as a core character of Indian polity.
“Nehru believed that in a country like India, which has many faiths and religions, no real nationalism could be built except on the basis of secularity,” he said.
In his speech, Vice President Ansari also emphasised that Nehru’s exposition of secularism did not mean an absence of religion, but putting religion on a different plane from that of normal political and social life.
“It was firmly rooted in affirmation of social and political equality,” the Vice President said referring to the rich legacy of the first Prime Minister of the country.
Releasing the book ‘Jawaharlal Nehru and the Indian polity in perspective’, edited by P J Alexander, he also observed that Nehru’s concept of secularism was to serve as an instrument of national integration, actively promoting social and political change in the direction of eliminating inequality.
Detailing the contributions of Nehru to the nation, the Vice President termed him visionary and having played a major role in establishing a modern scientific and technological infrastructure in the country.
“He oversaw the establishment of many institutions of higher education, including the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS), the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the National Institutes of Technology (NIT),” said the Vice President.
Vice President Md Hamid Ansari, who is on a 3-day visit to Kerala, had earlier spoken about the issue of intolerance while inaugurating an Inter-Faith conference in Malappuram on Tuesday.
“Tolerance is a pragmatic formula for the functioning of the society without conflict between different religions, political ideologies, nationalities, ethnic groups, or other us-versus-them divisions,” VP Ansari had said at the event adding, “We must not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, as truth is the basis of all religions”.
(With inputs from PTI)