Mumbai represents cosmopolitan spirit: Ansari

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Mumbai, Nov 4 (UNI) Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari today said that Mumbai represented the cosmopolitan spirit of India and any other depiction of the city would lessen this character and deny its history and ethos.

Speaking at the Jamnalal Bajaj Awards 2008 function in the city this evening, Mr Ansari said the Indian Citizenship was the primary identity in the modern world though other identities based on class, region, language and community also existed alongside it.

The Vice President said the other identities should contribute and not distract us from the primary identity as an Indian citizen.

He said the greatest challenge of these times was the skillful accommodation and management of multiple identities of Indian people.

Remembering the Gandhian ideals and Nehru's conception of holistic Indian identity as reflected in the Constitution of India, Mr Ansari expressed concern that the basic constitutional framework of rights and obligations was under stress due to various political parties and groups.

He said ''Political parties and groups, operating within the ambit of the Constitution, tend to obstruct the exercise of fundamental rights by citizens. Equally disconcerting is the propensity in various quarters to explain such behaviour, or explain it away.'' Commenting on the current financial crisis enveloping the world economy, the Vice President said the problems were ''caused by irresponsible speculative market activity aptly described as 'casino capitalism'.'' He said the present crisis had raised questions about the efficacy, and the morality, of the present economic system.

The Vice President presented the Jamnalal Bajaj Award 2008 to Ms pholbasan Yadav for her work in Self-help Group Movement of Women in Chhattisgarh, Mr Tushar Kanjilal for his work of over three decades in the Sunderbans region on integrated rural development and ecological conservation, Mr Biswanath Pattnaik for his social work in Kandhamal district of Orissa and Mr Louis Campana for promoting Gandhian ideals the world over.

He said ''each of the awardees deserved our gratitude because as a people, we have confined Gandhiji to tokenism, remembering him twice a year and confining his image to statues and currency notes''.

He lamented the fact that the message and values propagated by Gandhiji have been forgotten.

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