President Pranab Mukherjee said that democracy must protect the freedom to doubt, disagree and dispute intellectually. This statement is also significant considering its time of delivery. Currently India is troubled due to divisive politics and intolerance.
Pranab Mukherjee was addressing the Indian History Congress in Thiruvananthapuram. He also mentioned the strength of India. He said that pluralism and social culture, linguistic and religious diversity are India’s greatest strength.
The President also said that our tradition has always been the argumentative Indian and not the intolerant Indian. He spoke about the unfortunate tendency in the country from time to time to take umbrage at the expression of any view perceived to be hostile to our social and cultural institutions past or present
He also said that a critical appraisal of heroes and national icons have been met with hostility and sometimes even violence. Nothing should lie outside the realm of reason. Therefore one must discuss and argue. Such freedom is vital for progress in any field, especially a calling and a craft like history.
Pranab Mukherjee also said that multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in India. Mr Mukherjee asserted that freedom of speech is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution.
The President said that “No society is perfect and history must be also seen as a guide on what went wrong and what were the contradictions, deficiencies and weaknesses of the past.”
Pranab Mukherjee also said that the study of history will be of use to us in shaping our conduct today. We must undertake it with objectivity. He said that mainstream Indian historiography has been quite conscious of this responsibility.
The President also urged historians to uphold objectivity in their approach to the discipline. He cautioned that deep-rooted sentiments of prejudice or an innate sense of superiority could shroud the impartiality that was required in the profession.