What Dr. Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister said.

Speech of Dr. Manmohan Singh, Former Prime Minister on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhi Janma Pancha Sapthathi Samaroh being organised by Rajiv Youth Foundation at Mavlankar Hall, Constitution Club, New Delhi on 20th August, 2019

I am very happy to be here with you today on the occasion of the 75th Birth Anniversary of Shri Rajiv Gandhi being organised by Rajiv Youth Foundation as “Rajiv Gandhi Janma Pancha Sapthathi Samaroh”, and also to present the “Rajiv Gandhi Janma Pancha Sapthathi Puraskar” to prominent personalities and organizations those who have made valuable contribution to the society for the last one decade. Let me begin by congratulating all the recipients of this Award, including my friend Shri Ramesh Chennithala who implemented welfare programmes such as “Operation Kubera”, “Clean Campus Safe Campus’’, “Subha Yatra” and “Gandhigram” in the State of Kerala.

We meet today during the 75th Birth Anniversary of our illustrious and young Former Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi. While we continue to mourn his untimely loss, we derive strength from his endeavours and his achievements in a short time. He was the one who truly set the direction for equipping our nation for entering the new millennium with a progressive, modern and scientific outlook. Major strides in communication and information technology, in strengthening democracy at the grass roots level, in education, in ending decade old insurgency movement in Mizoram, in opening a fresh dialogue with China, in launching the technology missions, and in many other areas, have been the direct results of his vision and efforts, and have given us today a firm platform to launch further initiatives for growth and development. It shall be our endeavour to carry forward the work he had started.

If Rajiv ji were to be with us today nothing would give him greater comfort than to see how many of his ideas have now come to be accepted as the reality of our development, thinking for the 21st Century. He was, as I said, a true visionary. He was also a very practical and hard-working person. It is this combination of vision and practical common sense, of passion and hard work that endeared him to so many in so short a period of time.

Today’s function is a celebration of Shri Rajiv Gandhi’s outstanding contribution to promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony. But it is also a solemn occasion on two counts. First, it is an occasion to pay homage to our beloved former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi ji, whose memory we shall always cherish. The values Rajiv ji lived by were essentially the values that define our nationhood – a broad secular outlook, the spirit of tolerance, commitment to communal harmony and empathy to others. Our homage to Rajiv ji should not only be a remembrance of his extraordinary personality and contribution to nation building – it should also be marked by a reaffirmation of our commitment to abide by these very values.

Another cause for solemn reflection today is some disturbing trends that our country has been witnessing over the past few years. These unpleasant trends of growing intolerance, communal polarization, growing incidence of violent crimes propelled by hatred of certain groups and of mobs taking the law in their own hands can only damage our polity.

They are repugnant to the promotion of peace, national integration and communal harmony, which are cherished objectives enshrined in our Constitution. All of us need to reflect on how we can contribute to arresting these trends.

We must continue our journey on the path shown by Rajiv ji by imbibing these words of Rajiv ji “Nothing is more important than the unity and integrity of our nation. India is indivisible. Secularism is the bedrock of our nationhood. It implies more than tolerance. It involves an active effort for harmony. No religion preaches hatred and intolerance. Vested interests, both external and internal, are inciting and exploiting communal passions and violence to divide India.”

I take this opportunity once again to thank Rajiv Youth Foundation and Shri Ramesh Chennithala for inviting me for this important function and to congratulate all the recipients of the Award. I convey my best wishes for the welfare activities of the Foundation. Let me end by again paying my deep respects to our beloved former Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi ji. His leadership and the ideals he followed will always act as a beacon for us, particularly in moments of difficulty and confusion.

Jai Hind.

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