Vice President Hamid Ansari on Sunday highlighted the importance of tolerance and secularism in the democracy in his final public address while holding office. Tolerance is a virtue that can help a society function despite political, religious or ideological differences, Ansari said at the 25th annual convocation of the National Law School of India University in Bengaluru on Sunday.

However, “tolerance alone is not a strong enough foundation for building an inclusive and pluralistic society,” Ansari said, adding that it must be coupled with understanding and acceptance. He added that the challenge in the current scenario is to reiterate and rejuvenate secularism’s basic principles such as equality, freedom of religion and tolerance.

Nationalism that places cultural commitments at its core promotes intolerance and arrogant patriotism, he said, adding that it is the most conservative and illiberal form of nationalism. He criticised the alternate viewpoint of “purifying exclusivism.” “One manifestation of it is ‘an increasingly fragile national ego’ that threatens to rule out any dissent, however innocent,” Ansari said. Hyper-nationalism and the closing of the mind also indicate insecurity about one’s place in the world, he added.