"Even America is a theocratic country. India is not a theocratic country. Why? Because our saints and seers did not just consider the people living within our borders as part of the family, but called everyone living in the world as one family," the minister said.
The minister's comments have come amid raging protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which critics allege discriminates on the basis of religion by keeping Muslims out of its purview.
Singh, in his speech, underlined that India had "never declared that its religion would be Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist", and people of all religions could live here.
"They (saints and seers) gave the slogan of 'Vasudev Kutumbakam', the whole world is one family. This message has gone to the whole world from here only," he added.
"Just imagine what kind of values does India have. If an ant comes under our feet, then we cry in pain for the creature (humare muh se 'si' ki awaz nikal jati hai). This is how sensitive one is when one has the feeling of Indianness within," the minister said.
He added that when it is required to protect the self-esteem of India, the same person is ready to be hanged with a smile on his or her face, and this is what "Indianness" is.
"There is kindness, tenderness and feeling of motherhood. Our Indian values are astounding," the minister said.
Singh gave Raksha Mantri Padak and commendation cards to NCC cadets and observed band and cultural performances of NCC cadets on Wednesday on the occasion of NCC Republic Day Camp 2020.
"Our Indian values say that all religions are equal. That is why India never declared itself as theocratic state. We never said that our religion would be Hindu, Sikh or Buddhist. We never said any such thing. We are a secular state. All religions can live here," he said in his speech.
He also praised the National Cadet Corps and said it can play a big role in boosting the sense of national pride among Indian youths.
"Whatever I have seen today, I was trying to compare when I was the NCC cadet myself. I have come to the conclusion that times have changed. During my time, we couldn't even imagine such cultural performances," the minister said.
All boys and girls must be proud of being part of the world's largest youth organisation that NCC is, he said.
"The NCC can play an important role in boosting the sense of national pride among people. I would like to tell the kids that Indian cultural values are unparalleled. NCC, as a youth organisation, helps in inculcating the sense of Indianness in you. It is unparalleled," the minister said.
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