The notion of pluralism, inclusion and peaceful co-existence have to be the cornerstones of governance, Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu said on Tuesday, emphasising that development with dignity must be the agenda of nation.Delivering the 10th Annual Lecture of National Minorities Commission on 'Minorities in Nation Building', Naidu said bringing a bill in Parliament will not change many things unless "we have political will and administrative skill"."Secularism is safe in India not just because of the Constitution. It is part of our DNA. We inherited it from the Vedic days."He said India is the largest democracy and its Constitution contained an "incredibly inclusive vision of our nation"."We have a duty to translate this caring and sharing vision into a reality by co-opting all groups, however small, in the task of nation building."The Vice President said the National Minorities Commission was an institutional mechanism for ensuring that Constitutional safeguards are adhered to. The commission is mandated to suggest and devise appropriate measures for the socio-economic development of minorities in India. It has the underlying principle of inclusive growth ensuring that the benefits of political democracy reach those who are likely to be left out, he added.
The Vice President said that it is the principle of 'antyodaya', the empowerment of the weakest, the farthest and the smallest. He further said India is built on the four important pillars given by the Constitution -- justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. "The strength of these pillars determines the strength of the superstructure, the grand India, we are building."The role of minority groups in nation-building has been phenomenal and they could do this because they gave predominance to their identity as Indians, he stated."Once we keep the national interests at the top of our development agenda, the other factors become less important," the Vice President pointed out.He further said equal opportunity must be given for everyone to learn, earn and grow into active citizens was crucial and the country must grow into a learning society as well. "Irrespective of caste, creed, region, religion and language, we are Indians first." The Vice President said one must introspect to "identify divisive, destructive, demeaning tendencies and aberrations". "We must also collectively overcome them with grit and determination. Internal tensions are counterproductive and we must channel our rich human resources to productive ends, towards nation building."
Naidu said the country is richer because of the contribution made by various groups to art and architecture, music and dance. "Our heritage, dotted with temples, mosques, churches, viharas, stupas, gurudwaras and monasteries, is a fascinating tapestry of human excellence." "In fact, they have made extraordinary contribution to the building of a vibrant, industrial India, a strong and secure India and an agriculturally self reliant India."He said the freedom saga includes illustrious names like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Hakim Ajmal Khan, Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan and Barakatullah besides icons like Bhagat Singh, Bhikaji Cama, Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta.Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said during the last three years, the government had made every effort to ensure that the "light of development" reaches out to the last person on the lowest rung of the society. Over the last three years, the representation of Muslim community in central government has increased from 4.5 per cent to 9.8 per cent, he said, adding that the Government has laid special emphasis on the empowerment of women belonging to the minority communities.