Social evils need to be dealt with sternly: PM

New Delhi: Against the backdrop of recent attacks on dalits and Muslims, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said social evils will have to be dealt with "sternly" and with "sensitivity" as survival of the society is impossible if there is no social unity.

Economic progress is no guarantee to a strong society whose foundation is social justice, he said in his

Independence Day address and asked the countrymen to work for social equality and justice.

He made it clear that social harmony is key to the nation's progress and all saints and personalities like

Mahatma Gandhi and B R Ambedkar stressed on the need for treating everybody equally.

"We look at the social tension today. What message had saint Ramanuja Acharya given? He had said we should equally serve all followers of good, without any prejudice. Don't disrespect anybody for reason of his caste.

"What lord Buddha, Mahatma Gandhi, saint Ramanajucharya, B R Ambedkar, all our holy scriptures saints and teachers have stressed is social unity. When society breaks, the empire disintegrates. When a society is divided into touchables and untouchables; upper and lower (castes), then such a society

cannot last," he said.