President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said that India's pluralism and social, cultural, linguistic and religious diversity is her greatest strength and a multiple source of inspiration for every Indian.
He also appealed to parents and teachers to inculcate in children the habit of reading at a young age. He said implanting the habit of reading in children will ensure that it becomes a skill that stands them in good stead throughout their lives.
"We must be uncompromising in rejecting intolerance, prejudice and hatred. Book fairs such as NDWBF should remind us that our history and traditions have always celebrated the 'argumentative' Indian and not the 'intolerant' Indian,'" he said while inaugurating the New Delhi World Book Fair (NDWBF) at Pragati Maidan in Delhi on Saturday.
"Multiple views, thoughts and philosophies have competed with each other peacefully for centuries in our country and freedom of speech is one of the most important fundamental rights guaranteed by our Constitution," he added.
President Mukherjee said that an international book fair of this magnitude is one of the best manifestations of India's liberal, democratic, multi-lingual, multi-cultural and secular society where competing ideas and ideologies have equal space.
"These values constitute the essence of India. We must do everything possible to preserve, protect, promote and nurture these ideals," he added.
Congratulating the organizers for having chosen Children's Literature as the theme for this year's fair, he said no human society can develop in all its dimensions if it does not produce meaningful literature for its children and young readers.
He called upon authors, publishers and Government to do their utmost to promote children's literature.Watch the President speak at the event: