New Delhi, Nov 21: Noting that the world is presently "struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance", President Pranab Mukherjee today said this was the time to reinforce the values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them throughout the globe.
Inaugurating the first-ever International Conference of Indologists, he cited Swami Vivekananda's message that "the world has yet to learn from India, the idea not only of toleration, but of sympathy" as he sought to remind people of the high values for which the country has been known.
"We are today witnessing events without precedent; when the world is struggling to deal with the worst impulses of intolerance and hatred that mankind has ever witnessed.
"At such a time, there can be no better recourse than to remind ourselves of the high values, written and unwritten samskaras (tradition), duties and the way of life that is the essence of India," he said. He further stressed that "this is the time to reinforce the civilisational values that bind together the complex diversity of modern-day India and promote them among our people and the world".
Ever since the Dadri lynching incident and subsequent events, Mukherjee has been appealing for tolerance and pluralism. He appealed to the scholars attending the three-day meet to not excessively dwell on ancient times or merely fill the people with nostalgia about India's grand past but "highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche".
"I am confident that your deliberations over the next three days will highlight the manner in which pluralism and multi-culturalism are at the very core of the Indian psyche. They will surely make an important contribution to our existing body of knowledge in the area of Indology," he said.
Mukherjee also gave away the first Distinguished Indologist Award to Prof Emeritus Heinrich Freiherr von Stietencron of Germany in recognition of his great work in Indology, or the study of India from the perspectives of history, culture, religion and languages, among others.
The award, instituted by the External Affairs Ministry and Indian Council for Cultural Relations, includes USD 20,000 and a citation. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was also present during the function.