Nagpur, June 7: Former president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, while addressing the concluding ceremony of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ‘Tritiya Varsh Varg’ training programme in Nagpur, gave a strong message on Nationalism to all the RSS workers. The Ex-President said any attempt at defining the nationhood in terms of dogma and identities or religion, region, hatred and intolerance will only lead to dilution of our identity.

In his address, he quoted Mahatma Gandhi saying that Indian nationalism was not exclusive nor aggressive nor destructive. “Our national identity has emerged after a long drawn process of confluence and assimilation, the multiple cultures and faiths make us special and tolerant”, Mukherjee said.

He further said that democracy is not a gift to us but a sacred task and our Constitution is a Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation of India. “It represents the aspiration of millions of Indian. And from our Constitution, flows our Nationalism”, he added.

Mukherjee emphasized that India must move from violence and conflict to peace and happiness. He says despite India being one of the fastest growing economies, it ranks low in the happiness index. While ending his address, Pranab Mukherjee said that the aim of the state should be to galvanize people to fight against poverty and disease.

Mukherjee was welcomed by RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat at the headquarters of the right-wing organization in Nagpur on Thursday evening. During his address, Mukherjee said he wishes to share his understanding of the concepts of nation, nationalism and patriotism in the context of India.

In an apparent reference to the ‘one-nation-one-culture ideology’ often identified with the RSS, Mukherjee said India’s nationhood is not “one language, one religion and one enemy”.

“It is ‘perennial universalism’ of 1.3 billion people who use 122 languages and 1600 dialects…practice seven major religions… live under one system, one flag and one identity of being Bhartiya (Indian) and have ‘no enemies’. That is what makes Bharat (India) a diverse and united nation,” he said.

Mukherjee, who served as President of India between 2012 and 2017, said, “Every day, we see increased violence around us. At the heart of this violence is darkness, fear and mistrust. We must free our public discourse from all forms of violence, physical as well as verbal.”

Mukherjee said only “a non-violent society” can ensure the participation of all sections of people in the democratic process, especially the marginalized and dispossessed.

“We must move from anger, violence and conflict to peace, harmony and happiness,” he said.

Mukherjee also talked about thousands years of Indian history, including the rules of various dynasties, Muslim invaders, a mercantile company and then the British empire.

The RSS describes itself as a nationalist and cultural organization rather than a political or religious one. It was founded by Hedgewar, on September 27, 1925.