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Secularism will promote peace: PM

Mahendra Ved

Wednesday 9 July 2003, by VED*Mahendra

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du mercredi 9 juillet 2003.

NEW DELHI: Emphasising that "tolerance should be a global idea" Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday called upon the world community to adopt the concept of secularism - Sarva Pantna Samabhava - to promote better understanding, peace and cooperation.

Inaugurating the New Delhi Conference on "Dialogue Among Civilisations" sponsored by the HRD ministry and Unesco, Vajpayee adopted a self-critical role for the world community, saying that while tremendous progress had been achieved, "something precious - the human element - had been missing."

He deplored the emergence of terrorism "that misuses the name of religion" as also continuing clashes in some parts of the world. Man was looking for answers to questions that were self-created, like "my country, right or wrong," "my people the greatest in history" and "my faith the only faith," he added.

The Prime Minister rejected the "clash of civilisations" theory that has gained currency in the West, calling it "flawed and baseless". Much confusion stemmed from mixing civilisation and history, he pointed out.

"Civilisations do not - rather cannot - clash. To be civilised is to abjure clashes and conflicts, and to try to resolve all disputes and contentious issues through dialogue," Vajpayee said.

Unesco director general Koichiro Matsura, who was present on the occasion, said that it was important to recognise the new tensions on the international scene since the end of the cold war and find solutions to these.

This required broadening the scope of dialogue. "We must be creative and innovative in this direction," he said, adding the "greatest enemy of a dialogue is a closed mind".

HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi said that dialogue "must aim at ending exclusivism and promote inclusiveness." It was necessary to "avoid the mistake of imposing uniformity in the world", he added.

Joshi pointed out that the three sub-themes of the conference - education, science and search for values, and said they were essential as "unifying forces that insist at the same time on diversity."

Calling for an end to hunger, both physical and of knowledge, President A P J Abdul Kalam in his message to the two-day conference said, hungry citizens were not worried about dialogue and civilisation.

Dr L M Singh, India’s representative on the Unesco’s governing board, called for using dialogue to build bridges among the people.

He hoped that the New Delhi Declarations, proposed to be issued by the conference on Thursday, would not be mere repetition of what had been said, but would enhance the global dialogue in spirit and content.

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