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Construct of Indian nationalism is 'Constitutional Patriotism': Former President Pranab Mukherjee at RSS event in Nagpur
Former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, attended an RSS event in Nagpur and addressed the gathering on Thursday evening. The text of his address is available in media outlets. However, now the Congress leaders are appreciating the address as articulation of the right kind of 'sagacious advice' and conceptualisation of the precepts of 'nation' and 'nationalism'.

His address finds the central message, when he stated, "On 26 January 1950, the Constitution of India came into effect. In a remarkable display of idealism and courage, we the people of India gave to ourselves a sovereign democratic republic to secure for all its citizens justice, liberty, and equality. We undertook to promote among all citizens fraternity, the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestar of the modern Indian State. Democracy became our most precious guide towards peace and regeneration from the swamp of poverty created by centuries of colonial rule. For us, Democracy is not a gift, but a sacred trust."

He went on to say that the Indian Constitution represented the hopes and aspirations of the billion plus Indians. From our Constitution flows our nationalism. "The construct of Indian nationalism is 'Constitutional Patriotism', which consists of an appreciation of our inherited and shared diversity; a readiness to enact one's citizenship at different levels; the ability to self correct and learn from others," he added.

He further stated, "The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. This plurality of our society has come through assimilation of ideas over centuries. Secularism and inclusion are a matter of faith for us. It is our composite culture which makes us into one nation."

"In a democracy, informed and reasoned public engagement on all issues of national importance is essential. A dialogue is necessary not only to balance the competing interests but also to reconcile them. Divergent strands in public discourse have to be recognized. We may argue, we may agree, or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Only through a dialogue can we develop the understanding to solve complex problems without an unhealthy strife within our polity," he said.

Here are some one-liners from Mukherjee's address:

- Nation is defined as 'a large group of people sharing the same culture, language or history and inhabiting a particular state or area'.

-Nationalism is defined as 'identification with one's own nation and support for its interests especially to the exclusion of interests of other nations'.

-Patriotism is defined as 'devotion to and vigorous support for one's country'.

-Indian Nationalism emanated from "Universalism" the philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah, Sarve Santu Niramayah.

-Our national identity has emerged through a long drawn process of confluence, assimilation, and co-existence.

-The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance.

-Any attempt at defining our nationhood in terms of dogmas and identities of religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our national identity.

-Peaceful co-existence, compassion, respect for life and harmony with nature form the foundation of our civilization.

-We must move from anger, violence, and conflict to peace, harmony, and happiness.

-To lead healthy, happy, and productive lives is the basic right of our citizens.

-In the happiness of the people lies the happiness of the king, their welfare is his welfare.

-The aim of the state should be to galvanise them to fight a concerted war against poverty, disease and deprivation and to convert economic growth into real development.

He ended his address by urging the gathering thus, "Let the objective of spreading Peace, Harmony and Happiness inform the formulation of our public policy and guide all the actions of our state and citizens in their everyday life. This and only this will be able to create a happy nation, where Nationalism flows automatically."

According to Randeep Surjewala of the Congress, Pranab Mukherjee has shown the mirror of truth to the RSS by stressing India's core values of pluralism, tolerance, secularism and inclusiveness.

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