Amidst the raging debate over growing intolerance in the country, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday once again reiterated the need for free speech and embracing liberal ideas in order to create a "sensitive and alive citizenry".
President Mukherjee was addressing the 52nd Convocation of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Calcutta.
"Institutions must allow an atmosphere of free debate, discussions and dissent but not conflict and confrontation. The atmosphere should be free from violence, not just physical but also mental," the President said.
Invoking Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Mukherjee said Indians may be argumentative but can never be called intolerant.
LET THERE BE DEBATE
"India's campuses are known for its liberalism, confluence of various thoughts and ideas. Let there be debate, disagreement and dissentment but not intolerance," he said.
At a time when the allegation against the ruling dispensation at the Centre is that it is often intolerant towards opposing views, the President Mukherjee stressed on the need to accept criticism of others.
"India is the land of Buddha and Gandhi. We accept, absorb and embrace but never reject anybody," he reminded the students.
PRANAB MUKHERJEE'S IMPROMPTU ADDRESS
Despite carrying a written convocation speech, President Pranab Mukherjee, during his 20-minute address surprisingly chose to speak impromptu.
"Being a fellow Calcuttan and being a son of the soil I believe I must frankly express some of the views from my heart. If I have hurt any sentiments I apologise for it," Mukherjee added.