India must lead in reviving internationalism, handle its diversity: Manmohan Singh
New Delhi, Nov 19: Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Monday that India must lead in reviving internationalism and stay ahead in the globalised world by handling its diversity and having an innate cosmopolitan temperament.
In an apparent criticism of the present government, he said India's success is its pluralist democracy, which celebrates diversity rather than equate unity with monochromatic dispensations, and the more narrowly the country seeks to define its identity the less capacity it will have in dealing with a globalising world.
Singh was speaking after receiving the prestigious Indira Gandhi prize for peace, disarmament and development for the year 2017, which was presented to him by former Chief Justice of India Justice (retd) T S Thakur, in presence of former President Pranab Mukherjee and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
Former Vice President M Hamid Ansari and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, besides a host of former chief ministers, union ministers and dignitaries were present among the audience at the award function.
In her inaugural address, Sonia Gandhi said Manmohan Singh's demeanour is such that it appears that he was born wise.
"He is the very epitome of integrity, humility, sagacity and gravitas. Not for him tall claims. Not for him empty and fanciful boasts. Not for him self-promoting bombast. Not for him falsifications of facts and history. Not for him the language of abuse and vitriol," she said.
She said in Singh's decade-long prime ministerial tenure, India recorded its highest economic growth rate ever. He became PM when the country was on edge and within months, his policies had a profound calming effect, Sonia Gandhi said.
Singh said if globalisation is one continuing and reinforcing trend, then the emergence of an increasingly multi-polar world is another, and the two are integrally inter-linked.
The former prime minister also called for a multilateral rule-based trade order which would enable the efficient management of an increasingly inter-connected and inter-dependent global economy, saying this must be high on India's international agenda.
"We must lead in reviving the spirit of internationalism to temper the narrow urgings of nationalism now sweeping across the world," he said.
Singh noted that if globalisation is an inevitability and India needs to stay ahead of the curve, the assets that it can draw upon are its success as a pluralist democracy that celebrates diversity rather than equate unity with monochromatic dispensations.
He said successful societies of the future will be those which can handle immense diversity and have an innate cosmopolitan temperament. "The framers of India's Constitution were wise men and women in articulating a concept of citizenship which transcended, but did not seek suppression of India's diversity," he said.
He also noted that if Asia is to sustain its remarkable trajectory of growth and dynamism, acknowledging and learning to manage its emerging multi-polarity will be the key. "If not, peace will inevitably be the casualty and so would development," he said.
Singh noted that right from the day it became an independent nation, India has been a steady champion of multilateralism and the spirit of internationalism without which it would lack its driving impulse.
"We are now at a point in history where there is an urgent need to strengthen institutions of global governance, including the United Nations, promote multilateralism as a process for transforming global collaboration on a whole series of global challenges which threaten to fragment and undermine international order," he said.