Kolkata: Former vice-president Hamid Ansari on Saturday called for ensuring basic principles of the Constitution so that every citizen can be assured equal protection under the law.
Speaking at a discussion on, ‘Is Secularism Dead in India’, at Jadavpur University, Ansari said the state has to play a neutral position to make this possible.
“There has to be a neutral standard which the state has to observe not in theory but in practice, equal protection has to be imbibed in the agents of state,” Ansari said.
“Who can guarantee my neighbour eats the same food as I do, his faith is the same as my faith. If anything that impedes the reality of our plurality, that should not be allowed to remain there,” he said.
Speaking about secularism, Ansari said it was a subject so relevant in this country.
“And I dare say not only to citizens of this country but to the world which is indicative of concern in the wider international community,” he said.
The fact that we are a plural society is not a matter of debate, Ansari said.
“From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, from Bengal to Gujarat, in every direction the plurality, complexity, diversity of society is self-evident,” the former vice-president added.
“There is diversity in every conceivable manner, diversity of language and diversity in food habits,” he said.
Ansari, who was the vice-president of India from 2007-2017, jokingly described his tenure as ex-officio chairman of Rajya Sabha “as the referee in a hockey match”.
Historian and Trinamool Congress MP Sugata Bose during his address said secularism as set of values enables society to ride over prejudice to creatively accommodate differences and respect multiple identities.
Bose said the most urgent task now is to rescue religion from bigots and nationalism from chauvinists.
“We must take stand against religious bigotry and majoritarianism that is stoking our land. Majority of our people are ‘dharmabhirus‘ not ‘dharmandhos,” he said.
Talking about Swami Vivekananda and Rishi Aurobinda’s preachings, Bose said, “We need to engage their teachings but not allow distortion of their views for narrow political gains.” (PTI)