New Delhi: Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the use of violence as an instrument of protest was the biggest challenge before the country.

While the old evils such as communalism, casteism and parochialism remain, there are new challenges as well, he said in his address at the National Integration Council meeting here.

"The biggest challenge is the use of violence as an instrument of protest or an instrument of change. Insurgency, militancy and terrorism threaten to unravel the idea of India," he said.

The Home Minister said it was natural to focus on violent attacks of terrorist groups but attention must be given to the violence unleashed by ideologically-driven Left wing extremists and recalcitrant separatist groups in northeastern states.

While referring to the agenda being discussed at the meeting, Chidambaram said each one of the four agenda items has the same underlying theme - violence which threatens to destroy the foundation of our national life.

The issues being discussed at the NIC meeting include communal violence a visible example of primeval attitudes of groups that seek to dominate or subjugate other groups and discrimination against minorities. The other issues being discussed at the meeting include radicalisation of youth in the name of religion and that caste emboldens them to take to the path of violence.

"I would like to ask this Council to guide us on how to deal with the issues that are included in the agenda. In particular, I would like to ask you whether the institutions that we have - of both government and civil society – are adequate to meet these grave challenges and, if they are not, how do we strengthen these institutions or set up new institutions," Chidambaram said.