New Delhi, Nov 21: Nobel Laureate Desmond M Tutu has lavished praise on India for its ''remarkable capacity'' to remain a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-faith country, setting an example for the contemporary world ridden with tensions.
Dr Tutu, who delivered the 20th Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial IFFCO Lecture yesterday, said Indians deserved to be appreciated for exhibiting ''an extraordinary level of tolerance towards different faiths and traditions and their wisdom, culture, music, drama, art and civilisation stems from antiquity''.
Dilating on the rich cultural and religious backgroud of the country, Dr Tutu said: ''India is the cradle of not just one but four singnificant faiths - Hindusim, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism - which predate Judaism and Christainity and Islam.'' The profound teachings and philosophies of these faiths have enriched all, he said.
Dr Tutu, who has been bestowed the title of 'Archibishop Emeritus', was honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 in recognition of his extraordinary contributions. He has worked with former South Africa President Nelson Mandela against apartheid.
Dr Tutu admired India for being tolerant towards different faiths and traditions and said ''India has demonstrated that no worthwhile faith propagated violence or injustice.'' ''And Mahatama Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru were almost inconsolable when the Muslims broke away to form Pakistan... there are distressing tensions between the West and the rest of world exacerbated by perceptions about the pernicious appeal of different faith positions to buttress political and economic alienations.'' ''India had shown religious pluralism....enshrined in political dispensations...you (Indians) can have a Sikh Prime Minister and until recently a Muslim President ... and you had a Dalit as President and now the first ever woman President seeking to empower those who have usually been maginalised,'' he added.
Dr Tutu said India and South Africa had close relations and Mahatama Gandhi honed his Satyagraha in South Africa before leading Indians to liberation. ''India was the first country in 1948 which was ready to boycott apartheid South Africa... we(South Africa) are free today because you walked a path that was not too popular with the powerful of the world.'' India had been at the forefront of the Non-aligned Movement and ''risked China's wrath'' by giving asylum to the Dalai Lama for over 50 years, he said.
Now, India is not only the largest democracy in the world but a large economic power growing at 9.4 per cent with a vibrant IT sector, he added.
IFFCO chairman Surinder Kumar Jakhar presided over the function.
Dr Tutu also gave away the IFFCO'Sahkarita Ratna' award to Mr Ashok Bandyopadhyay from West Bengal and 'IFFCO Sahkarita Bandhu' award to Mr U S Singhdev from Madhya Pradesh the year 2006-07.