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Kalam's Novel Suggestion For Nation-Building

Author:  Image of Abha SharmaAbha Sharma
Published: 16.06.2004
Updated: 02.12.2010

President A P J Abdul Kalam suggested on Tuesday a novel way to involve citizens in nation-building, saying all devotees who visit religious places should be asked to take a vow to educate students, plant trees and treat male and female children equally, steps he felt would have a “tremendous impact” on society.

“Over 500,000 people visit major places of worship of various religions every day. Some vows may be displayed there and devotees can take any of them as thanksgiving to God,” he said at the launch of Foundation for Unity of Religions and Enlightened Citizenship here.

Among the vows suggested by the President were that each devotee should pledge to educate five children, activate one pond in his neighbourhood or nearby village, remove enmity within his family and withdraw court cases, plant five fruit-bearing trees, not succumb to temptation of addictive substances and treat male and female children equally.

“Even if only some of the devotees take any one of these vows, I am sure there will be a tremendous impact on society,” Mr Kalam said.

Religious Integration

Recalling his visits to holy places across the country, he said: “Wherever I went, I found that knowingly or unknowingly, integration of religions has taken place. There is a fabric of connectivity among the people.”

Mr Kalam said the “core competence” of the country was that a billion people of multicultural, multilingual and multireligious backgrounds managed to stay united.
He said with the launch of the Foundation for Unity of Religions and Enlightened Citizenship, the vision of the Surat Spiritual Declaration (SSD) signed nine months ago had become a reality.

The SSD, which had been signed by prominent spiritual leaders of all religions in the presence of the President, had been the basis for a number of projects to create “enlightened citizens”, said L M Singhvi, Chancellor of Jain Vishwa Bharati Institute in Rajasthan and former Indian High Commissioner to Britain.

In a brief message, Jain spiritual leader Acharya Mahaprajna called for reflection on religion and economics which together could lead to the nation’s development.
“Economics and religion seem contradictory, but I do not think so. They influence and solve each other’s problems,” he said.

Translations of the SSD into 15 languages were also presented to the President on the occasion.

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