01/27/2014, 00.00
INDIA

Card Gracias: Poverty and attacks on life threaten democracy in India

by Card. Oswald Gracias
On the occasion of 65th Republic Day, the President of the Episcopal Conference illustrates the positive sides of the country, but also challenges to be overcome. On January 26, 1950 the Constitution came into force, based on "freedom, human dignity, secularism , justice, democracy and equality", in compliance with "the diversity and the rights of minorities." Among the problems to be solved "dehumanizing poverty , violence against women, attacks on life and environmental threats".

Mumbai (AsiaNews ) - India, a nation "of democracy, freedom and dignity of all citizens " yesterday celebrated the 65th Republic Day . The anniversary falls on the day on which the current Constitution came into force, on 26 January 1950. Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) and archbishop of Mumbai, reflects with AsiaNews on the meaning of this feast and how the country is now "facing unprecedented challenges: inequality, dehumanizing poverty, violence against women, attacks on life , threats against the ecology".  Below we publish Card. Gracias' reflections.

Our Republic Day is celebrated as the day when the Constitution of India came into effect on - 26th January 1950, Our Constitution is our charter of democracy and of the rights of the people. Individual freedom and dignity is guaranteed under the fundamental rights included in the Constitution.  It is a day, we celebrate our beloved country as a "sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic".

Republic Day signifies India's enduring commitment to democracy and freedom.   As we celebrate Republic Day, let us  reflect on the core values enshrined in our Constitution- and rededicate ourselves in service to our  country and rededicate ourselves in promotion of these core values of our country.

Our Constitution embodies and reflects certain basic values, philosophy and objectives that were held very dear to our founding fathers. The values expressed in the Preamble are sovereignty, socialism, secularism, democracy, republican character, justice, liberty, equality, fraternity, human dignity and the unity and integrity of the nation.

In addition to them, our Constitution promotes respect for diversity and minority rights.  Articles from 25 to 28 ensure freedom of religion to all its citizens, prohibiting any discrimination on the ground of religion.

Our country faces , unprecedented challenges like the scandal of glaring inequalities and  dehumanising poverty, the violence on women and the attacks on life and threats to ecology.

In the face of these challenges, we come across two types of India: on the one side there is a fast developing economy and on the other, the fast growing number of poor totally disregarded.

Around  300 million of India's 1,129 million still live below the poverty line. It is agonizing that close to 1.3 million children die every year in India because of malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)-this is a scandal

The scourge of violence on women which begins even before she is born, is a shame and disgrace. Women are victims of discrimination, abuse, rape, dowry-related murder, domestic violence and acid attacks.

The attacks on life- and the increasing culture of death.  Violence to life takes various forms such as abortion, ethically unacceptable artificial reproductive techniques such as IVF and surrogate motherhood.

The rich spiritual heritage and tolerance, today being reduced to religious intolerance and violence,

Our country faces ecological threats, with growing urbanization India has witnessed an increase in environmental problems such as land degradation, deforestation, air and water pollution and climate change.  Respecting nature means protecting man from the danger of self-destruction.

Therefore, on India's 65th Republic Day, is a time for introspection and re-dedication especially in the run up to the 2014 General Election, to make our democracy a vibrant and effective one. 

This is a very significant Year, for the Archdiocese of Bombay, which is dedicated to the "Year of the Eucharist". The Eucharistic selfless love that leads us beyond the turbulence of our times to find deep meaning, fulfilling joy and abiding peace. In this Year of the Eucharist, will grace us to be committed to bearing more forceful witness to God's presence and solidarity', in our beloved motherland India".

 

God Bless India

(Nirmala Carvalho collaborated)

 

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