VP cautions against mixing religion and politics


Thiruvananthapuram, Feb 16: Vice President Venkaiah Naidu today cautioned against mixing religion with politics and said religion was "personal" and a “way of worship.”
Closing temples in the name of caste is "totally wrong" and against the dharma, culture and the visions of the country, he said.
Delivering the annual Sree Chithira Thirunal Memorial Lecture here, Naidu said "social justice" and "inclusion" were a part of the genesis of independent India and “we couldn't have had a really 'free' nation with a sizable unfree population.”
In the socio-economic context of pre-independent India, removal of barriers to social integration of the dalits was a big challenge, he said. Naidu said there were dalit movements demanding temple entry in different parts of India. Dalits had forced their way into Jagannath Temple in Odisha and Chamundi shrine in Rajasthan.
"Politics should not get into religion and religion should not get into politics," he said.
"Religion is personal...it is a way of worship...we may pray to Allah..we may pray to Jesus Christ...we may pray Rama.. Krishna...Sai Baba...Lord Ayyappa...," he said.
"If we believe in 'vasudhaiva kutumbakam' and the spirit of the country is to treat everybody equal, how can anyone discriminate people on the basis of religion and caste?," Naidu asked.
India cannot be called an ideal nation and an egalitarian civilised society, if people are divided like this, he said adding that the country had a tradition to treat everybody equal.
"Why is Indian civilisation still surviving strong, vibrant...because we believe in sarva jana sukhino bhavantu...vasudhaiva kutumbakam...the entire universe is one family..we believe in the welfare of everbody...we take care of the well being of our neighbours...," he said.
India has no history of attacking any country and it never believed in aggression, he said. Naidu said people should be elected and selected on the basis of four Cs-character,calibre, capacity and conduct.
Unfortunately, some political fronts in the country go by three Cs-caste, community and cash, he said.
Detailing the responsibilities of administrators, the Vice President said a king or a democratic government has to be ever vigilant, ever watchful, and ever open to new trends.
"They need to be responsive to the changing needs and times if they have to stay relevant," he said.
Lavishing praise on erstwhile Travancore King Sree Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, Naidu said his historic Temple Entry Proclamation in 1936 was a "bold step."
"Sree Chithira Thirunal was a trailblazer in establishing sound systems of education and health.
The erstwhile king was veritably an icon of good governance embodying the essence of "Indianness".
"He visualized that socio-economic development must be inclusive. He knew that this would necessitate broadening the base of education and universalize access to good quality education," the vice president said.
Naidu also urged people to draw inspiration from the great social reformer and work collectively to shape a vibrant, forward-looking India in the years to come.
The 24th Sree Chithira Thirunal Memorial Lecture was organised by the state-based 'Sree Chithira Thirunal Smaraka Samithy' at the Kanakakunnu Palace here. Governor Justice P Sathasivam, state minister of cultural affairs A K Balan and members of the royal family attended the function.

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