New Delhi, Nov 24 (PTI) Former vice-president Hamid Ansari on Saturday warned that social prejudices would result in exclusions that could prove to be dangerous, saying the need of the hour was to go beyond mere tolerance and accept the so-called ‘Other’.

At a conference on ‘Towards Peace, Harmony and Happiness: Transition to Transformation’, organised by the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation, Ansari said the sense of fraternity was the bulwark against the two pervasive evils in the society — caste prejudice and religious intolerance.

Both of these have deep roots in social practice and are sought to be reinforced by doctrines of assimilation and inclusiveness aimed at diluting and erasing the diversity of our society, Ansari said. “These harmful homogenising ventures, and the social prejudices engineered through them, result in exclusion and alienation and in creating images of the ‘Other’. They have induced a crisis of fraternity that we ignore at our peril,” he said.

Ansari pointed out that self-correctives by the institutions of the state were not forthcoming in sufficient measure since each of them has been “afflicted by cancerous growth within”. “The end result is that the de jure, ‘We, the people’, in the first line of the Preamble is in reality a fragmented ‘we’ divided by yawning gaps that remain to be bridged.” The need of the hour is to move beyond rhetoric and ritual commitments to the promotion in practice of fraternity, he said, adding that the need was to go beyond mere tolerance to the actual acceptance of the so-called ‘Other’.

“Anything short of that would be sophistry. If social-economic transformation is attempted devoid of these three principles, resistance, including violent resistance, would be unavoidable. Constitutional imperatives, prudent statecraft, and practical commonsense demand that these be the litmus test of every agenda of change,” he added.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.