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'We need no lessons in secularism from West'

'We need no lessons in secularism  from West'

Publication: The Times of India
Date:  April 26, 2002

Introduction: Mahavir's message of tolerance is part of Indian ethos: PM

India needs no lessons in secularism from the West because secularism is part of the innate message of Bhagwan Mahavir's philosophy of non-violence and tolerance, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said on Thursday

He made the remark while speaking at the concluding ceremony of the year-long programme to celebrate the 2600th birth anniversary of Bhagwan Mahavir. Mr Vajpayee said that normalcy would return to Gujarat, ending "momentary disruptions". The PM's comment was a clear response to strictures passed by several countries as well as the European Union for the government's failure to contain communal violence in Gujarat.

On Wednesday, India had objected to the observations made by foreign nations on the Gujarat situation, alleging that some foreign missions were "deliberately leaking" their internal reports, leading to the impression that they were playing a partisan role.

India had said such actions were contrary to well-established norms of diplomacy and injurious to the friendly relations between India and the EU as well as individual European countries. While Britain on Thursday denied that it was working with its citizens of Gujarati origing to file cases against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, Canada justified its concern by saying that it was a "strong friend" of India.

Mr Vajpayee said that the need to remember Mahavir and the basic tenets of Jainism had acquired a new urgency and relevance in the backdrop of the current strife. "Disruptions are temporary, things will be alright again shortly," he said. The importance of Bhagwan Mahavir's teachings was borne out by the reassurance offered by them in such troubled times, the PM added.

"Pluralism, secularism, such concepts began with Mahavir's message. In the rush of today's materialism, we need some support that will take us along the path of spiritual fulfilment," Mr Vajpayee said.

In his first reaction to a spate of critical comments from other countries, the PM significantly took refuge in the long and rich spiritual tradition of the country.

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