DEHRADUN, Mar 27:
President Ram Nath Kovind on Sunday said the constitution has put an end to caste and religion-based untouchability post Independence, but an attitude of mental untouchability towards lepers still persists in India.
Addressing the concluding ceremony of the silver jubilee celebrations of Divya Prem Sewa Mission in Haridwar, he said a number of false and unscientific notions still prevail in the Indian society about leprosy and those suffering from the disease.
“Many people in the country still feel leprosy is a curse which results from past sins. They do not realise that it is like any other disease,” Kovind said as he credited the founder of the mission, Ashish Gautam for working admirably towards shattering many such myths.
Quoting Mahatma Gandhi, the President said those who look down upon lepers are actually sick themselves. Gandhi also believed that the best way of knowing oneself was to dedicate oneself to the service of humanity, he said, adding that Mahatma personally tended to his friend Parchure Shastri, a Sanskrit scholar, poet and freedom fighter who was suffering from leprosy.
“Our constitution makers put an end to caste and religion-based untouchability after Independence. They even made the practice a punishable offence. But, an attitude of mental untouchability towards people suffering from leprosy still persists in our country. We cannot be called a sensitive nation or society until we put an end to that attitude,” Kovind said.
He said the occasion has stirred up memories of his 25 year-long association with the mission.
“I remember how the mission began in a small hut and I am happy to see that the seed which was sown 25 years ago has grown into a big tree today. I also had a small role to play in the sowing of that seed,” he said.
Utarakhand Governor Lt Gen (retd) Gurmit Singh and Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said serving the poor and the sick is the highest form of religion.
Calling Ashish Gautam “true follower of Swami Vivekananda”, the Governor said by opting to serve lepers, he had shown extra-ordinary will power and resolve.
Yoga guru Ramdev recommended a Bharat Ratna for the founder of the mission in recognition of his selfless service of lepers. (PTI)
Attitude of mental untouchability towards lepers still persists in India: Kovind
DEHRADUN, Mar 27: