Chandi Prasad Bhatt, a Gandhian and environmentalist, who is associated with the Chipko movement, has been given the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration by the Congress.
Speaking on the occasion here on Thursday, Congress interim chief Sonia Gandhi targeted the government and said, "National integration was one of Indira Gandhi's many passions. But unlike those in the ruling establishment now, she didn't equate unity with uniformity.
"On the contrary, she was deeply conscious of and proud of India's diversities. She was profoundly sensitive to India's cultural traditions. She was for strengthening the bonds of political and cultural unity. She believed in accommodating, respecting and celebrating our many diversities."
Stating that Indira Gandhi understood the importance of inclusiveness, the Congress leader said, "She (Indira) also recognised that without just economic and social policies that promoted equity and inclusiveness, India could not develop and prosper. Her vision of national integration was all encompassing, helping the disadvantaged, and ensuring that no section of Indian society was excluded on the basis of caste or creed."
Pointing to rising intolerance and violence, the Congress leader said, "A skewed vision of history and society is being imposed along with falsehood and unscientific ideas. All this is the anti-thesis of the liberal, secular and democratic foundations of our country."