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Ansari pitches for liberal nationalism

New Delhi: Cultural nationalism premised on religious majoritarianism is being espoused by a section which is in contrast to liberal values, Vice President Hamid Ansari today said, listing key challenges facing India.

He said threats emanating from regional and social imbalances have given rise to and fuel insurgencies, terrorism, sub-nationalism and communalism in India and they must be dealt with appropriate policy initiatives.

Ansari was delivering the 5th K Subrahmanyam memorial lecture on ‘Domestic Dimensions of Security’.

Ansari said a segment of opinion today would prefer to espouse an Indian version of “cultural nationalism” premised on “religious majoritarianism” which, he felt, would be in contrast to the hitherto accepted philosophy of “liberal nationalism”.

He said the “existential reality” of modern India is a plural society of immense diversity devoted to the realisation of the objectives and ideals enshrined in the Constitution.

“The key to dealing with internal security is to keep the focus on both the people and society, and on the rule of law that, regrettably, has been undermined by the rule of politics,” he said.

Talking about critically disturbed areas, he said the state’s functional presence is diminishing and the “paradox” is that both the state and society are insecure.

“Furthermore, education, health, public distribution system and civic services are on the verge of breakdown,” he said, while referring to “widespread” unrest, discontent and conflicts among sections of population.

Ansari said in the disturbed and insurgency infested areas, people feel insecure both from the insurgents and the state as its response has been to seek more security forces and greater militarisation of the environment.

Observing that issues of individual liberty and society’s security often appear at odds with each other, he said problems of deprivation, unemployment, poverty, hunger, lack of housing, over-crowding, and degradation of basic amenities have given rise to anger and crime. .