In the backdrop of several incidents of violence reflecting alleged communal and casteist bent, President Pranab Mukherjee once again stressed on strengthening the core values of co-existence and importance of diversity in our country. Addressing the banquet at Rashtrapati Bhavan hosted in the honour of the leaders of 54 African nations who were in New Delhi for the 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit , the President said that both India and Africa are guided by the vision of Mahatma Gandhi.
“Diversity is our lifeblood as it enriches us and makes us even stronger. It ensures that we value co-existence, dialogue, mutual understanding and peace,” President Mukherjee said.
“These are perspectives on the human development that India and Africa share, these are perspectives that we can together contribute to the rest of the world for handling conflicts and crises,” the President added.
President’s remarks assumes significance for he has once again chosen to underline the core values, especially in the wake of protest against the “rising intolerance”, where host of writers, authors, filmmakers and one top scientist have returned awards and honours.
“Once again we are determined that our struggle will be based on principles – the principles of equality and partnership, of mutual benefit, of human dignity. For India and Africa, guided by the vision of Mahatma Gandhi who belonged to both, that is the only path,” the President of the Union said.”
Referring to the colonial rule and cruel oppression, the President emphasised that economic deprivation and racial discrimination may be behind us but the challenges are far from gone and they have changed.
“We have still to overcome poverty and disease, terrorism and drug trafficking, lack of education and training,” he said.
Referring to issue of terrorism and violence, President Mukherjee said India and Africa should fight it together as it “knows no boundaries or borders and has no ideology except that of wanton destruction.”
He also sought both the sides to extend cooperation in the field of agriculture besides assuring that India is committed to assist Africa in charting its own course through infrastructure development, institution building and technical and vocational skill development.
“India’s development partnership with Africa complements the various priorities set out in the Agenda 2063 vision document adopted by the African Union,” the President said.
Going down the memory lane, President Mukherjee also recalled the days before India had its ‘Green Revolution’.
“We were not self-sufficient in food. In those days, we literally lived from ‘ship to mouth’. Though India today is self-sufficient in food production, the land available for agriculture is continuously decreasing due to rising population,” Preisdent Mukherjee said.
(With inputs from the PTI)