05/16/2009, 00.00
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Card. Gracias: Religious freedom has won. Now attention to the poor and dalits

by Nirmala Carvalho
The Archbishop of Mumbai is “proud” of the election results which reflect the “heart of the common people”. He asks the future government to “avoid populist measures” and to “fulfil their promises”. Most urgent needs: long term policies for the poor, women and minorities.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - “I am proud of my country”. That is how the Archbishop of Mumbai and president of the Indian Bishops Conference (Ccbi), Oswald Gracias, comments the election results which are emerging from India.

The Mumbai prelate says the vote “is a clear mandate for religious freedom and India can only gain and prosper if the freedom of religion as enshrined by our founding fathers in the constitution is upheld and ensured”. It reflects “The common person in India has a heart, which naturally respects all religions and earnestly seeks to live in peace and harmony and unity”.

The archbishop of the Indian metropolis is satisfied that the elections “were conducted in a peaceful manner” and that “the people have shown a sense of responsibility”. The prelate sees the victory of the United Progressive Alliance “a certain degree of satisfaction in the governance of the incumbent government”, but immediately adds “this is now an opportunity for the government to fulfil their unfinished promises to the people of India”.

He expects renewed commitment from the incoming executive on issues such as “inclusiveness of all peoples, the minorities, the majorities, the tribal’s and dalits.  All peoples add to the wealth and richness of our beloved motherland”.

“I strongly desire that the Government will now be able to take bolder initiatives and even implement programmes which may at first seem unpopular, but will be for the common good and for the nation”. The Cardinal is speaking of “urgent measure” that the government should focus on. “Basic primary health care and education for women, female children and the poor” Gracias considers priorities for the first five years of governance.  “The government – stresses the cardinal - should refrain from populist measures but rather implement long term pro-poor policies which will benefit our common people and elevate poverty from our nation”.

“Our rural poor, our girl child, our women, our tribals and our dalits need basic primary health care and education”, says the Archbishop. “This government should initiate a social devolution” which would help India make great strides on the International Stage”.


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