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In ancient India, Durga was defence minister and Laxmi the finance minister: V-P Naidu

Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu made these observations during his keynote address at the Indian School of Business Leadership Summit in Mohali.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2017 22:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
India,Durga,Laxmi
File photo of Vice President Venkaiah Naidu addressing the gathering at a function in New Delhi. In Mohali, Naidu touched upon the issues of intolerance and language.(PTI)

Goddess Durga was the defence minister and Laxmi, the deity for wealth, was finance minister in ancient India, vice president Venkaiah Naidu said on Friday.

He mentioned the goddesses to make a point about women’s empowerment while delivering the keynote address at a leadership summit hosted by the Indian School of Business in Mohali.

“From the Puranas, we find that the education minister was goddess Saraswati, defence minister was Durga Devi and finance minister was Laxmi Devi,” he said in an auditorium packed with would-be business leaders.

He pitched for equal opportunities to women, saying they are given highest importance in “our philosophies ... our culture”.

He cited the feminine names of the country’s major rivers — Ganga, Yamuna, Cauvery, Narmada, Mahanadi and Tapti. And said: “We also call our country Bharat Mata or Mother India.”

Naidu advised the students to be proud of the country’s heritage.

“Speak in any other language only when the other person does not know your mother tongue,” he said in a speech peppered with Hindi one-liners.

He also referred to Ram Rajya, or the rule of god Ram, a phrase synonymous with good governance and often used in political discourses.

“Ram Rajya is still hailed as the greatest period of our history because of the ideal governance. But if one talks about it today, it too may be given a communal angle,” he said.

Mahatma Gandhi once talked about Ram Rajya “where there is no deception, exploitation, discrimination or harassment ... that is called adarsh (ideal) state”, he said.

A senior BJP leader and Union minister before he became the country’s vice president this August, Naidu admitted he was not always politically correct.

“I am reminded by people near me that I should not speak from my heart now. I am the vice president of the country. But if I do not speak from my heart, I it will get enlarged and it is not good for my health,” he said drawing a round of applause.

The vice president said there was a debate on “growing intolerance” and freedom of speech for some time but that it was wrong to term society as growing more intolerant.

“Some people expressed their views on Afzal Guru ... in a democracy we have a right to express our views. But these views have to be within the constitutional framework. There have to be limitations on freedom of speech and expression,” he said.

Guru was the 2001 Parliament attack convict and hanged in February 2013. Several Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student leaders faced sedition charges for organising a rally during his death anniversary last year and allegedly shouting pro-Guru slogans.

Naidu said: “We need regulations for democracy to survive. The dignity of an individual is important but it cannot be above the integrity of the country.”

The vice president advised the students to collectively root out corruption, communalism, casteism, fundamentalism, criminalisation of politics, gender discrimination and atrocities against women and weaker sections.

“We have to tap into our inner strengths and with a collective will and tireless striving as gurudev Rabindranath Tagore said ‘we must build a new India’.”

(with agency inputs)

First Published: Sep 22, 2017 16:02 IST