04/19/2004, 00.00
india - elections 2004
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Fundamentalism, echology, unemployement: challenges to political parties

Bishop speaks out on main election issues

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Bishop Thomas Dabre, of the Diocese of Vasai, Maharashtra, north of Mumbai and formerly a part of the Archdiocese of Bombay, gave an interview to a National Television station this morning.  He focused on the ills that the people of Vasai face in their day-to day existence. He stated that there are three main issues that need to be addressed by the Political Parties on the occasion of tomorrow's elections.

1.          In view of industrialization and the subsequent urbanization which has affected a vast majority of the population in the formerly agrarian-based economy of Vasai, the problem of unemployment for educated local youth in-spite of possessing academic degrees, has developed. Linked to the problem of industrialization and urbanization on the one hand, are other phenomena of Globalization and the retrenchment of workers, through initially attractive packages like Voluntary Retirement Schemes. These changes disrupt the familial and societal life of people. He stated that the ethical and moral aspects of globalization need to be addressed by the political parties.

2.          Concern for the environment and balance of the ecosystem was highlighted by Bishop Dabre. Vasai witnessed a 'construction boom' in the last decade which has had serious consequences on the environment, thus disrupting ecological balance in the society. The large-scale development however, also does not have an infrastructure to support it.  Lack of proper drainage systems, water shortage, frequent power cuts are some of the basic issues that need to be attended to on a top-priority basis.

3.          Bishop Dabre, spoke clearly and determinedly on the rising phenomena of Fundamentalism and the persecution of Christians in different parts of the country.  The right of an individual to practice the 'religion of their choice' is enshrined in the Constitution and yet Church and Christian institutions and missionaries are attacked and falsely accused of forceful conversion.

The Bishop is a well-known and a respected figure in Vasai, and has taken a  courageous stand in the national Television interview. His opinions will carry a great deal of clout in the coming elections to address the sociological problems that assail not just the Christian Community, but all the people of Vasai. (NC)

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