India needs no lesson on religious freedom

Indian Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Saturday said thaat India needs no “lessons” from anybody on religious freedom as this is a fundamental right granted under the Constitution.

“We do not need lessons from anybody. Some countries off late started giving us lectures forgetting what is happening back in their own countries,” he said in an obvious reference to the recent report on International Religious Freedom published by the US State Department.

He asserted that India is a country built on the foundations of a civilization that is fundamentally tolerant and religious freedom is a fundamental right granted under Articles 25 to 28 of the Constitution.

If at all one has to grade the countries, the most secular country in the world is India, he said in his address at the convocation of the Muffakham Jah College of Engineering and Technology, a minority institution, here. He asserted there may be isolated incidents but it was wrong to brand the whole country.

“There may be isolated incidents here and there. They have to be isolated, insulated, condemned and action has to be taken against those people rather than clubbing the entire country and branding the country as if things are going wrong,” he said in apparent reference to incidents of mob lynching.

He said the motto of ”Sab ka sath sab ka vikas and vishwas” had its roots in core principles of Indian civilization. “We believe in inclusive India wherein every citizen has same entitlement irrespective of his or her religious beliefs. All through the ages, Indian philosophers, rulers and modern political leadership expounded and uphold principles of equality and tolerance. The world can be rest assured that India celebrates its religious diversity by upholding religious freedom. No other country matches India in respect of diversity and commitment to preserve such a colourful mosaic,” he said.

Terming discrimination in the name of religion, caste and gender a “mental illness”, he said the people should protect themselves from it by bringing a change in their attitude.

“The preamble of our Constitution declares our country as secular so as to guarantee equality to every citizen without any discrimination based on religion, though our country is predominantly Hindu. This Constitutional prescription is nothing but a natural culmination of the core values of Indian civilization that has evolved over the last 5000 years,”.

“India is the birth place of four major religions of the world– namely, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. Significant population of three other religions of the world namely Islam, Christianity and Zoroastrianism live in India. In fact, Indian Muslims constitute the third largest Muslim population in the world,” he noted.

He assumed that certain aberrations like looking at minorities as vote banks may have had some “undesirable socio-political ramifications” but the situation was changing as a new, young and aspirational India was emerging fast.

Naidu, who began his speech with few Urdu words, exhorted graduating students to excel in their respective areas and serve the society and the motherland through their research.

Referring to social media, he said that one side it is positive but on other side there is no confirmation. “There is sensationalism. It is very dangerous. Social media has to accountable and responsible. Whatever news spread should not have ill-effects and create social tensions,” he added.

Telangana Home Minister Mahmood Ali, Osmania University Vice Chancellor Prof. S. Ramachandram, MJCET Director Dr. Basheer Ahmed, Principal Prof. Sitarammaiah, Sultan ul Uloom Education Society Chairman Khan Lateef Khan and Secretary Zafar Javeed were also present.

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