Against the backdrop of recent attacks on dalits and Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said social evils will have to be dealt with "sternly" and with "sensitivity" as survival of the society is impossible if there is no social unity.
Economic progress is no guarantee to a strong society whose foundation is social justice, he said in his Independence Day address and asked the countrymen to work for social equality and justice.
He made it clear that social harmony is key to the nation's progress and all saints and personalities like Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar stressed on the need for treating everybody equally.
"We look at the social tension today. What message had saint Ramanuja Acharya given? He had said we should equally serve all followers of good, without any prejudice. Don't disrespect anybody for reason of his caste. What lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, saint Ramanajucharya, B R Ambedkar, all our holy scriptures saints and teachers have stressed is social unity. When society breaks, the empire disintegrates. When a society is divided into touchables and untouchables; upper and lower (castes), then such a society cannot last," he said.
Modi added that 'hota hai, chalta hai (it happens, it is ok)' attitude won't help in dealing with social problems.
"These evils are centuries-old and will have to be tackled more sternly and sensitively," he said.
"The governments and the society will have to work together to pull the society out of this conflict We together will have to fight these social ills," he said.
His comments from the ramparts of Red Fort came against the backdrop of attacks on dalits and Muslims in the recent times even though he made no direct reference to these incidents.
"Only a strong society is guarantee to a strong India" and "only social justice can lead to a strong society", he said.
"Only economic freedom is no guarantee to a strong society. Social justice is our collective responsibility," he said, adding that dalits, tribals and the disadvanataged will have to be taken together for the country's progress.