Hamid Ansari confers Interfaith Harmony Award on Sri M

New Delhi, Feb 20: Social reformer Sri M has been conferred with the Karan Singh Interfaith Harmony award, as he received the honour from Vice-President Hamid Ansari amidst leading a Kanyakumari-Sringar march to promote communal harmony.

The Vice-President, after giving away the citation from the global interfaith organisation Temple of Understanding (TOU) in the presence of scholar-author Dr Karan Singh, MP, at a function in the capital on Friday evening, said dialogue is imperative for peace to prevail in society—and hailed the 67-year-old spiritual guide’s efforts in spreading this message.

“We need tolerance, but we need to go a step further and promote acceptance as well. Even while disagreeing, let us accept differences of opinion,” Dr Ansari told the Teen Murti House gathering that included 70-plus volunteers of the ongoing 7,500-km ‘Walk of Hope’ padayatra led by Kerala-born SriM.

Quoting a string of world-renowned thinkers, he said “whosever ridicules others’ religion is insulting one’s own.”

New York-headquartered (TOU was founded in 1960 by homemaker Juliet Hollister, who died in 2000 at age 84.

Dr Karan Singh, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha, said it was a sad irony that religion has become a reason to fight when compassion is its essence. “India is a land that has given birth to four religions and welcomed six others from its west. We can only be proud of our plurality,” he said. “We need to uphold it.”

The 67-year-old yogi Sri M, in his reply, said that a variety of races, religions, language and cultures has only helped India add to its diversity for long. “Of late, we are seeing instances to break the unity. We must resist such moves,” he exhorted. “I believe this padayatra is sowing seeds in that direction—and that it will achieve its purpose in the future.”

TOU General Secretary V.K. Merchant delivered the welcome speech, while the organisation’s vice-president B.P. Singh proposed thanks.

Sri M, in his Feb 17-March 3 Delhi leg is typically interacting with the public, besides top administrators and influential leaders. He also already met President Pranab Mukherjee and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal besides union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Maneka Gandhi. The march, which is to conclude in the Jammu and Kashmir capital in early May, also features cultural evenings.

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