Debating India

INDE

NDA committed to secularism: Advani

Bishweshwar Mishra

Thursday 31 July 2003, by MISHRA*Bishweshwar

Article paru dans le Times of India, ?dition du 31 juillet 2003.

NEW DELHI: Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani on Thursday said that the BJP-led NDA government was "committed to balanced and integral development of the country without exclusion of any community, region or language."

He even challenged those who questioned the secular credentials of his government.

Speaking at the National Seminar on Development as Freedom - An India Perspective, in which Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was also present, Advani said, "I wish to say this with some emphasis because many well-intentioned people, including Prof Sen himself sometimes, have raised questions about our secular credentials. We are prepared for an open debate on Secularism."

He said, "We are prepared to argue our case with anybody that the Indian concept and ethos of Sarva Panth Sambhaav are most in harmony with the ideals of Freedom and Development."

He added that his government neither believed in nor practiced the ideology of exclusion and discrimination. "Doing so is completely antithetical to our belief in secularism or our understanding of Indian nationalism," Advani added.

He further said that the NDA government under Prime Minister Vajpayee was trying to translate Prof Sen’s ideas into reality. "The Prime Minister has presented an energising vision of making India a developed nation by 2020," he added.

Drawing from Amartya Sen’s thesis Advani stressed the centrality of democracy in a society. "It is important to underscore the centrality of democracy for attaining democracy and freedom for an important reason. There are totalitarian ideologies that have argued that what society needs is development."

However, he said, these totalitarian regimes crumbled under the pressure of democratic movements world over.

Advani further said how in the present times terrorism had emerged as the most potent foe of peace, development, freedom and social harmony in all the countries that it had targeted, he added.

"It is our resolve to crush terrorism and protect our people as well as protect the gains of our freedom and development," he said. Without calling Pakistan by name, Advani said that it had made terrorism a part of its state policy threatening peace and development within that country itself.

"Terrorism has threatened and jeopardised peace, development, freedom, democracy and social tranquillity even in the country in our neighbourhood, which has made terrorism a part of its state policy," Advani added.

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