Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday urged Indians to unite and counter the disturbing trends of intolerance, communal polarisation and violent crimes by hate groups and mobs, PTI reported. Singh was addressing the Rajiv Gandhi Sadbhavana Award function in New Delhi.

The former prime minister and Congress leader said these incidents would harm India’s national interests. “All of us need to pause and reflect on how we can work together and contribute to arresting these trends,” he added.

The award, constituted in memory of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, honours those who contribute to “promoting peace and communal harmony”. It was awarded to former West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi.

In her address, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson and former Congress President Sonia Gandhi stressed the need for a united front against “divisiveness, hate and bigotry” in the country. She said her husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s belief in goodwill was relevant in the current scenario.

“Technological capabilities would have little value in the climate of growing scientific obscurantism and social prejudice,” Gandhi added. “We have seen that the opening of the economy and the closing of the mind is a dangerous and destructive mix.”

Gopalkrishna Gandhi also called for cooperation between those “opposed to coercion, bigotry, cult of fear and hate and the centralisation of power”. The former governor said he envisioned democratic parties collaborating to face these challenges. “That means shedding personal institutional egos, the larger entity, be it the bigger leader, the bigger party or the larger community is expected to make the larger gesture,” he added.

In April, Manmohan Singh called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to follow his own advice and speak up more often. His remarks were in reference to the Unnao and Kathua rape cases.