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Prime Minister's Office31-October, 2007 19:43 IST
|PM’s Address at the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration|
|The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh addressed the 22nd Indira Gandhi national integration award function here today.
The following is the text of the Prime Minister’s address on the occasion
“Each year we meet here to pay tribute to the memory of our great beloved leader, Indiraji, the greatest daughter of India and honour men and women made in her mould. The Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration is a fitting tribute to the memory of our beloved Indiraji.
Indiraji was a living embodiment of the values that define our nation and our Republic. Through her martyrdom, she helped embed those values deep in our hearts and minds. Her supreme sacrifice was in the cause of national integration. On this solemn occasion, we gratefully recall her legacy of nation building and respectfully pay our homage to her.
For Indiraji, national integration was not merely an emotional issue. Nor did she worry only about communal harmony. Indiraji had a holistic view of national integration. She viewed national integration as a process of bridging the many divides in our nation and in our society. This is the essence of the Indian view of national integration.
I am delighted that today, two personalities serving the cause of communal harmony have been selected for this prestigious Award. I congratulate Dr. J.S. Bandukwalla and Professor Ram Puniyani. Both of them have dedicated their lives to promote solidarity and understanding among different faiths. They have done so by fighting communalism and communal forces. They have taken steps to improve the social and economic conditions of minorities. What they have done reflect the values and vision of Indiraji.
Communal harmony and the co-existence of all the great religions of the world are the building blocks of our civilization. Indiraji strengthened these building blocks by nourishing them. She also understood the importance of equity and social justice in cementing national integration. “The persistence of inequality” she once observed, “posed serious danger to national integration”. She therefore worked tirelessly to bridge the many divides in our society and to meet the aspirations of all sections of our nation.
Dr. Bandukwalla and Dr Puniyani have devoted their life to realize these goals of Indiraji. Dr Bandukwalla has striven hard to create opportunities for Muslims by providing them with quality education. His constructive vision and action in educating Muslims is of paramount significance in promoting national integration. Our Government too recognizes this as an important national obligation. That is why we appointed the Justice Sachar Committee to enquire into the status of the Muslim community in our country. By addressing this mighty problem Dr. Bandukwalla has emerged as a champion of national integration. His practical steps to educate Muslims will ameliorate their conditions and make them active participants in processes of nation building.
I must also compliment Dr. Bandukwalla for his devotion to women’s empowerment. By fighting for the human rights of Muslim women, Dr. Bandukwalla has taken up the gigantic task of liberating them from oppression and discrimination. He has done so in the face of threats to his life. In doing so, he has shown the kind of courage we associate with Indiraji. He richly deserves the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration.
The other distinguished recipient of the Indira Gandhi Award is a teacher. Professor Ram Puniyani is a rare teacher whose teaching was never confined to the classroom. Society has been his classroom. He has taught us all to respect the human rights of all people. His contribution to communal harmony, through the work of Ekta and the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism has greatly contributed to peace in our times.
Combining scholarship with activism, he used the Peace and Conflict Resolution Workshop to conceptualize constructive approaches to national integration. His role in formulating peace curricula at the Tata institute of Social Sciences and Nirmala Niketan has been inspiring. Such educational syllabi can teach our younger generation how to serve the cause of unity and harmony in our society.
Indiraji described efforts for national integration as permanent precautions that an architect incorporates in his building plans. The ceaseless efforts an activities of Dr. Bandukwalla and Professor Puniyani are directed at safeguarding the architecture of our inclusive society. They are worthy recipients of the prestigious Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration. I have great pleasure in congratulating them and wishing both of them health, strength and success in their fight against communal and divisive forces, and for the unity and integrity of our mighty nation and society. I wish them well. May their path be blessed”.
(Release ID :32319)