What is it to be an Indian, asks Ansari

Former Vice-President Hamid Ansari on Tuesday cautioned that India’s electoral democracy could “metamorphose into an illiberal ethnic democracy, based on principle of a socio-political philosophy called Hindutva”.

Speaking at the launch of his book
Dare I Question
, Mr. Ansari said, “Our electoral democracy is a success story but it has not transformed into a substantive, inclusive and participatory democracy.”

Former Chief Justice of India T.S. Thakur, who released the book, said that Mr. Ansari’s latest work has deep understanding of the challenges “we have in our time”.

Justice Thakur said if there was one person who was qualified to speak on minorities, then it was Mr. Ansari, “who apart from himself belonging to a minority community also helmed the post of chairperson of National Commission of Minorities”.

The event was also attended by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, former Law Minister Ashwani Kumar and others.

Mr. Ansari also expressed concern about the contemporary debate in our country relating to three things: “Firstly, what are the principles of ideological foundation of India? Secondly, what is the condition of the institutional structures put in place by the Constitution? And thirdly, the implications of these in the Indian democracy.”

The former V-P said that his book is a collection of two sets of speeches made by him.

The first set covers the selection of speeches made in the last year of his second term. And the second set are the speeches made in the subsequent sixmonths.

He said the book was not a kiss-and-tell tale, but instead he has raised question on “What is it to be an Indian?”.

He underlined the “meaning of nationalism in the context of India’s plural society, our composite culture, and resultant need to inclusive and move beyond mere tolerance to acceptance of diversity”.

Mr. Ansari said that secularism in the Indian context means “symmetric political treatment of different religious communities, and defence of minorities rights”.

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