Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Friday that India needs the services of people who work for strengthening social unity.
Presenting the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadhbhavana Award to noted Islamic scholar Maulana Wahidudddin Khan, the prime minister said the award is given every year to a personality who had contributed to increasing social unity.
He said that former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had taken 'unprecedented initiatives to sign accords and start dialogue to end strifes in different parts of the country'.
Congratulating Maulana Wahidudddin Khan who won the award for 2009, the prime minister said the Islamic scholar had spent his whole life spreading the message of unity and peace and his books had attempted to find a peaceful solution to challenges of terrorism.
Khan had taken out a peace march with Acharya Sushil Muni and Swami Chidanand after the 1992 happenings in Ayodhya and the step had helped in normalising the situation.
Manmohan Singh said that Khan had carried India's message of love, peace and togetherness to different parts of the world.
In her remarks, Congress president Sonia Gandhi said her husband Rajiv Gandhi and leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi had never compromised on the principles of secularism and social unity.
She said that secularism should become a way of life to strengthen social unity.
The Sadbhavna award was presented on Rajiv Gandhi's birth anniversary.