Muslim education paramount for promoting national integration: PM

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New Delhi, Oct 31 (UNI) Asserting that educating Muslims was of paramount significance in promoting national integration, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said his government recognised this as an important "obligation".

"That is why we appointed the Justice Sachar Committee to enquire into the status of the Muslim community," he said at a function here to present the 22nd "Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration for 2006." Paying rich tributes to the memory of Indira Gandhi on the occasion of her Martyrdom day, he said said she viewed national integration not merely as lan emotional issue.

"Indiraji had a holistic view of national integration. She viewed national integration as a process of brdiging the many divides in our nation and society. This is the essence of the Indian view of national integration," Dr Singh added.

Pointing out that communal harmony and the co-existence of all the great religions of the world were the ''building blocks of our civilisation'', Dr Singh said Indira Gandhi strengthened these building blocks by nourishing them.

In this context, he said the former Prime Minister also understood the importance of equity and social justice in cementing national integration.

Congratulating Dr J S Bandukwalla and Prof Ram Puniyani, who shared the Indira Gandhi National Integration Award for 2006, Dr Singh said both of them had dedicated their lives to promoting 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." Dr Singh said Dr Bandukwalla and Dr Puniyani had devoted their lives to realise the goals of Indira Gandhi. Dr Bandukwalla had striven hard to create opportunities for Muslims by providing them with quality education. His constructive vision and action in educating Muslims was of paramount significance in promoting national integration. "Our government too recognises this as an important obligation. That is why we appointed the Justice Sachar Committee to enquire into the status of the Muslim community." He said Dr Puniyani was 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." UNI

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