President Pranab Mukherjee on Friday said intolerance has never been allowed in India and unity in diversity with mutual coexistence and understanding is the strength of the country.
Mukherjee said the mutual co-existence and understanding is the country's strength and managing this diversity its greatest power.
"If it is said Indians are argumentative, I will agree. But if it is said Indians are intolerant, I refuse to agree. Intolerance has never been allowed," he said.
"There will be diversity of opinion. People of India have the capacity to find the bond of unity", the President said here after inaugurating the five-day river festival 'Namami Brahmaputra'.
He said there are 200 languages spoken across the length and breath of India while all major seven religions are practised in the country.
"Nowhere in the world is found so much ethnic diversity," Mukherjee said.
"Despite that we are one nation, have one Constitution, living under one flag, one system maintaining regional identity. We are one nation," he said.
“The emergence of Neo Vaishnavism on the banks of river Brahmaputra by polymath Mahapurush Srimanta Sankardeb and others has given a new direction and a new regularity to our culture,” the President said.
Mukherjee said during his visits to Assam earlier, "I have seen greatness, kindness of heart. In times of agitation, tension I faced no problem as a political activist." Noting that the culture and economy of Northeast are essential ingredients of the Brahmaputra civilisation, he said, "The river witnessed the rise and fall of mighty empires, heroism of men and women, individual spirit challenging invaders."
Because of this the Moghuls could not establish their empire in Assam where the Battle of Saraighat was fought (in 1671 between the Mughal empire and Ahom kings in Assam), Mukherjee said.
Appreciating the cultural tradition of the Brahmaputra civilisation, he asked the Assam Government to have a cruise along the Brahmaputra showcasing its culture.
"Brahmaputra has legends, history, tradition, tales to tell visitors national or international. It will boost tourism here," the President said.
Assam has the most influential location to put in place Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Act East Policy', he said.
"People here are hard working and natural resources are available here. An appropriate policy needs to be built up backed by appropriate technology," Mukherjee suggested.
The President was also appreciative of Bhutan, whose Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay was present in the festival, introducing 'gross national happiness' of people in place of GDP.
"Bhutan's former King Jigme Singye Wangchuk had said in the UN measuring GDP in his Himalayan kingdom as 'gross national happiness'. Thanks to his contribution is indication in various UN reports about 'gross national happiness' of people," he added.
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