Former President Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday called the efforts to redefine the concept of nationalism in India unnecessary, saying that the idea must not be imposed on people, The Times of India reported.

“Such attempts are unnecessary since our concepts of nationalism and national identity predate the modern and postmodern constructs of identity,” Mukherjee said at an event at the Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh.

The former president emphasised that nationalism in India was not defined by territory, monarch, republicans or spiritual authority. “Nationalism can neither be imposed by law nor implemented by decree or be enforced by a dictum,” he said, adding that Indian statehood had been in existence for a long time. “This Indian civilisation is society-oriented and not politically dominated.”

Mukherjee also called the Aligarh Muslim University a great example of Indian nationalism because people from various religions, ethnicity, languages and cultures study and work productively there.

He made the statements at the bi-centenary celebrations of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, who had founded the university as the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental College.