Kolkata: President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday called for respecting the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit, and eliminating forces that divide society.
Delivering the Indira Gandhi Memorial Lecture (2013) on National Integration of the Asiatic Society here, he also stressed on the awareness about "limitations and mistakes of the past which gave rise to problems of inequality" in the country.
"Let us create on the foundation of our intrinsic unity, a strong and compassionate nation respected around the world. Let there be no forces that divide our society. Let us consolidate our thoughts around a common vision of a great nation," Mukherjee said.
The President said the state must do its best to reduce regional imbalances and provide a just, fair and good administration which will ensure equal treatment to every citizen, irrespective of his caste, religion, race, colour, sex or place of birth.
Mukherjee requested the citizens to rise above caste or communal loyalties and underscored the need for cultivating a secular and democratic outlook and ensuring inclusivity of every community in the national narrative.
"We must encourage a broad human outlook in all our citizens and educate them to rise above caste or communal loyalties."
"We must learn to respect the rights and sensitivities of minorities, both in letter and spirit. We must cultivate a secular and democratic outlook, and promote a way of life that is inclusive and does not interfere with civic duties and rights as well as responsibilities of individuals,"he said.
"We must strive to maintain an atmosphere where every community feels a part of the national narrative," he added.
The President said sometimes regional interest overtook national commitments, and urged everyone to guard against it.
"National integration demands that every citizen recognise the primacy of national interest over group or individual interests. Sometimes, it does happen that regional interests overtake our commitment to the national interest. We have to guard against any such tendency," he said.
The President described national integration as "essential for the idea of India to grow" and highlighted the role of the academic community to promote national integration.
He urged Indians to learn about the nation's history, and spoke about learning from the mistakes of the past.
"As with every other country, our beauty, achievement and potential for future growth are peppered with some deficiencies and failures. Every Indian citizen must also be aware of our mistakes of the past and limitations which have created problems of inequality in our midst."
Mukherjee batted for ingraining the concept of unity in diversity in the youth.
"All Indians must learn about the people who came here from different parts of the world and made their own contribution to the splendid mosaic that Indian culture is.," he said.
"Knowledge about different religions and great saints who took birth here should be part and parcel of everyone's education. Every Indian must be familiar with our age-old contacts with the outside world and our contributions to world civilization."
"Most important of all, the basic unity that keeps us together amidst the immense diversity of our peoples, ethnicities, languages and cultures should be ingrained in every individual citizen, especially the youth," he said.