President Pranab Mukherjee today said intolerance and violence is a betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy and slammed those who believe in the "poison drip of inflammatory provocation".
In his Independence Day-eve address to the nation, he referred to bigotry and noted that an increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers "in our region and beyond".
"Though an ancient civilisation, India is a modern nation with modern dreams. Intolerance and violence is a betrayal of the letter and spirit of democracy.
"Those who believe in the poison drip of inflammatory provocation do not understand India's values or even its present political impulses. Indians know that progress, economic or social, is difficult without peace," Mukherjee said.
The President's remarks assume significance in the context of rising incidents of communal violence in the country.
He recalled Maratha king Shivaji's letter to Aurangzeb when he imposed 'jizya'. He told the emperor that Shah Jehan, Jehangir and Akbar could also have levied this tax "but they did not give place to bigotry in their hearts, as they considered all men, high and low, created by God to be examples of the nature of diverse creeds and temperaments".
Mukherjee said the 17th century epistle of Shivaji carries a message, which is universal. It must become a living testament that guides our behaviour today.
"We can least afford to forget this message at a time when an increasingly turbulent international environment has sparked off rising dangers in our region and beyond, some clearly visible, and some crawling out of the debris of unprecedented turmoil," he said.
The President noted that across parts of Asia and Africa, attempts are being made by radical militias to redraw the maps of nations to create a geography for theocratic ideology.
"India will feel the heat of blowback, particularly as it represents the values that reject extremism in all its manifestations. India is a beacon of democracy, equilibrium, inter-and-intra faith harmony.
"We must defend our secular fabric with vigour. Our security and foreign policies must combine the steel of strength with the velvet of diplomacy even as we persuade the like-minded as well as the hesitant to recognise the substantial dangers that breed within indifference", Mukherjee said.
Talking about good governance, he said India needs creative thinking in governance that enables fast track development and ensures social harmony. "The nation has to be placed above partisan impulses. The people come