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Published in the 1-15 Jan 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

National Seminar on "Jawaharlal Nehru & Nationalism" 

Aligarh: Addressing a National Seminar on "Jawaharlal Nehru & Nationalism", Sonia Gandhi, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha called upon all secular and progressive forces to join hands and defeat those who subvert our constitutional values behind a reformist veneer.

Mrs Gandhi said that "we must reaffirm the collective will to combat communalism of all kinds in a frontal manner". Communalism of all kinds is pernicious and destructive. She said that the misuse of any religion to spread hate and discord in our society is communalism. The misuse of religion to incite popular passions, to ignite mutual antagonism is communalism.

Mrs Gandhi pointed out that Indian nationalism must continue to be liberal, open-minded, confident, rooted in the best of our traditions of mutual acceptance and accommodation.

Referring the role of Aligarh Muslim University, Mrs Gandhi said that the establishment of AMU was part of India’s intellectual and social renaissance in the late 19th century. It soon emerged as a catalyst in bringing various schools of Islamic thought and movements in step with modernity. It becomes a nerve-centre of a composite modern Islamic ethos and consciousness. Gandhiji, Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru and others interacted closely with AMU throughout our freedom movement. Many nationalists’ stalwarts of our freedom movement were educated and nurtured here. After partition, it became a symbol of the repudiation of the two-nation theory.

While delivering the presidential address, the Vice-Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University, Naseem Ahmad said that Nehru was the real architect of modern India. He tried to build a nation-state on the principles of modernity, democracy, secularism and composite nationalism.

Mr Ahmad mentioned that AMU owes a lot to Nehru and has been in the forefront of maintaining and advancing the cause of communal harmony. Aligarh’s association with Nehru family goes back to the time when Justice Syed Mahmood, the son of Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, who had the distinction of being the first Indian Judge of the Allahabad High Court, had intimate links with Motilal Nehru.

AMU Vice-Chancellor pointed out that Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University, heralded the dawn of a new era of intellectual and cultural renaissance for Muslims, not only in India, but the whole of Asia. Nehru was the first thinker to have realized the revolutionary implications of Sir Syed’s philosophy. Mrs Gandhi also released a book "Nehru and Modern India", edited by Prof T A Nizami.

- Rahat Abrar

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