"One of the most fundamental ideas of democracy is secularism but today, if you speak for it, there are people who might call you anti-national," former finance minister P Chidambaram said Wednesday during the book launch of renowned Indian political psychologist Ashish Nandy and Professor Aakash Singh Rathore.
Chidambaram was speaking at New Delhi's Jawahar Bhavan as a keynote speaker at the launch of "Vision For A Nation - Paths and Perspectives" a book jointly published by Samruddha Bharat Foundation & Penguin India. Former Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was the chief guest at the event.
"This book will define which way we need to go. A country with such unanimity and diversity can never be united unless we have political independence. This is a very important initiative that has been made. These volumes will help in contributing to knowing what is the idea of India all about. I hope these volumes will help define if not crystallise the idea of India," Chidambaram said.
The former finance minister also said that "Vision For A Nation - Paths and Perspectives" is not an ordinary book. "You cannot read it when you have nothing else to do. You have to pay attention to some of the most fundamental concepts in the book. Why do we have to rethink India after so many years of independence? We can reimagine India. One of the most fundamental ideas of democracy is secularism," Chidambaram said.
Chidambaram said secularism in the country was never challenged before as it is now. "That secularism rather challenged to a point that citizenship has become an objective. If you are secular, some people might call you anti-national, some people will say you're speaking the language of Pakistan, your citizenship will be questioned."
The Nandy and Professor Akash Singh Rathore's book launch was also attended by other eminent personalities like former Vice President Hamid Ansari, Sitaram Yechury, Shashi Tharoor and Pushparaj Deshpande among others,
"We are at a defining moment as to what will be the definition of India," Yechury said during the launch.
"This series is being published at a difficult time. These are strange times, when being anti-intellect is considered an achievement. When mediocrity is the prominent flavour of public discourse. When facts and dialectics are casualties and uninformed or even fake is a celebrity. So it is important for the intellect to reassert. It is important to re-energise the democratic, liberal agenda and rebuilt a larger consensus in its favour. That only can be a guarantee for the stability and prosperity of any society and for maintaining the dignity of every individual," said Gurdeep Singh Sappal - executive trustee of Samriddh Bharat and former Editor-In-Chief Rajya Sabha TV and OSD to former Vice President Hamid Ansari.