13 January 2014

PM asks people to guard against forces seeking to exploit diversity in religion, language & culture to divide society
Jan 13,  12:46 PM
Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has asked people to guard against forces seeking to exploit diversity in religion, language and culture to divide the society. Inaugurating the annual conference of State Minority Commissions in New Delhi this morning, Dr Singh stressed on the importance of age-old traditions of pluralism and tolerance.

Observing that secularism has been a way of life practised over centuries in the country, he cautioned against people who are attempting to redefine secularism even by thought. The Prime Minister said, the National Commission for Minorities and State Minority Commissions have done well in bringing into focus the responsibility of majority communities to safeguard the rights of minorities. Dr Singh called upon both majority and minorities communities to work together to create an atmosphere of acceptance and harmony.

Noting that the relationship between majority and minority communities is harmonious in most areas of the country, the Prime Minister said there have been isolated instances, of late, where this relationship has been put to test. He said these aberrations tarnish the image of the country and cause pain and suffering to the affected people.

Dr Singh said, over the last nine years, UPA government's efforts have shown visible results to ensure social and economic justice to minority communities. He informed that priority sector lending to minorities by banks, has gone up from about 59 thousand crore rupees in 2007-08 to 1.85 lakh crore rupees in 2012-13.

The Prime Minister sought the cooperation of the States for the success of government initiatives for the betterment of minorities in all spheres of life.

Addressing the conference, Minority Affairs Minister K Rehman Khan called upon the Minority Commissions to uphold Constitutional rights of religious and linguistic minorites. Referring to a new tendency to interpret the Constitution to deny reservation to religious minorities, Mr Khan justified the demand for reservation, saying minorities are a class of citizens and not a mere religious group.

The Minister informed the conference that the government has approved the establishment of a new National Wakf Development Corporation which will be launched shortly by the Prime Minister. The Corporation will finance the development of Wakf properties for public purposes throughout the country. He also informed the gathering that government is actively considering inclusion of Jain community in the list of Minorities.

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