In his address to the nation on the eve of 66th Republic Day, the President quoted Mahatma Gandhi, "religion is a force for unity" and said, "we cannot make it a cause of conflict" as wisdom of India always teaches "unity is strength,dominance is weakness."

He said the Constitution is the holy book of democracy and a "lodestar" for the socio-economic transformation of an India whose civilization has celebrated pluralism, advocated tolerance and promoted goodwill between diverse communities.

"These values, however, need to be preserved with utmost care and vigilance," he said.

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The comments of the President came at a time when some right wing parties have been sparking one controversy after another by raising issues like 'ghar wapsi', eulogiusing Nathuram Godse, pressing for having 10 kids for increasing Hindu population and some ministers making inappropriate comments about minorities.

The freedom inherent in democracy sometimes generates an unhappy by-product when political discourse becomes a "competition in hysteria that is abhorrent to our traditional ethos. The violence of the tongue cuts and wounds people's hearts," Mukherjee said.

On the issue of India being termed as a "soft power", he said, "the most powerful example of India's soft power, in an international environment where so many countries are sinking into the morass of theocratic violence, lies in our definition of the relationship between faith and polity.

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"We have always reposed our trust in faith-equality where every faith is equal before the law and every culture blends into another to create a positive dynamic," the President said.

Speaking about the menace of terrorism, Mukherjee made a veiled reference about Pakistan saying that the country's "adversaries" will stop at nothing to disrupt India's progress.

The multi-nation conflict has converted boundaries into "bloodlines, and turned terrorism into an industry of evil.

"Terrorism and violence are seeping across our borders. While peace, non-violence and good neighbourly intentions should remain the fundamentals of our foreign policy, we cannot afford to be complacent about adversaries who will stop at nothing to disrupt our progress towards a prosperous and equitable India," he said.

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