The senior statesman, who was conferred the D Litt at the convocation of Calcutta University here said, "It is of vital importance that the freedom of thought and expression, freedom of speech and writing be exercised fearlessly in our country."
Gandhi, the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, said fear is inconsistent with democracy.
"Those who have the capacity to think, as all of us do, have the responsibility to think responsibly, to write in freedom without being bullied by anybody," Gandhi, who had been the Indian envoy to different countries in the past, said.
"Fear, democracy, inhibition and republicanism won't go together," he said and called upon Bengal, the hub of "literature and culture, to continue to lead India out of any darkness."
Recalling his stint in Bengal as governor from December 14, 2004 to December 14, 2009, Gandhi quoted Rabindranath Tagore to say, "I have received far more than I gave here," ('Diyechhi jato niyechhi tar besi').
Gandhi said he was honoured with conferment of doctorate and "humbled by the great gesture.
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