Manmohan Singh underlines need to promote communal harmony

New Delhi, Sept 20 (ANI): Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Friday reaffirmed the commitment of the Central Government to make every possible effort to promote communal harmony and national integration in the country.

"We meet today in the backdrop of heightened communal tensions in some parts of our country. These are very sad developments which should make us all reflect on our individual and collective obligations to promote goodwill and amity in our polity and society," he said while addressing at the National Communal Harmony Awards function here today.

He also said that a meeting of the National Integration Council (NIC) has been called on September 23 to explore ways and means for achieving these ends.

Singh honoured two outstanding individuals, Khamliana and Md Abdul Bari, and the Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity , for their contribution to the cause of communal harmony and national integration.

Dr Manmohan Singh in his speech on the occasion said we belonged to a country which is characterised by great diversity, and added that it is also a country with a very proud legacy of tolerance and respect for ways of thinking other than one's own.

"India is a land where diverse religions have flourished together for centuries and have enriched each other. We as a people have an overall secular outlook and I believe that it is only a very small group of people that is responsible for creating divisions amongst us. I also believe that it is the solemn duty of each one of us to resist these forces," he said.

He said that the two individuals, who were honoured today, have done exemplary work which makes all of us proud.

"Khamliana's contribution to strengthening cohesiveness and goodwill in our society covers a diverse range of areas- rehabilitation of drug addicts, prevention of AIDS, cultural exchange programmes to promote national integration and unity, resource mobilization for orphanages and rescue homes and so on," he added.

Singh further said that he and his organization Mizoram Youth Club are shining examples of committed service to the society and their extraordinary leadership inspires all of us.

He further said that Mohammad Abdul Bari's career is another example of selfless service to the people, and added that he has worked to successfully prevent potential disturbances in Bhadrak District, and to contain them when they had occurred.

"His contribution covers other areas also including blood donation activities, education and health. Bari commands the respect of both Hindus and Muslims for his leadership and social activism," he said.

Singh congratulated The Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity which has now worked for 28 years for promoting communal harmony and national integration.

"It achieves these objectives through a variety of activities and the involvement of the youth and students. Its activities also include the dissemination of the message of peace, harmony and amity through the print and electronic media. The Foundation has done admirable work and truly deserves this award," he added.

He praised the work of the National Foundation for Communal Harmony which has instituted these awards, and said that it has truly achieved the objectives with which it was set up by the Government of India in 1992.

"It gives me happiness that through today's awards we have been able to know about the work of Khamliana, Bari and The Foundation for Amity and National Solidarity. We need more individuals and organizations like them. I once again congratulate them and wish them all success in the future. " he added. (ANI)