Card Gracias: Poverty and attacks on life threaten democracy in India
Jan. 27, 2014
India, a nation "of democracy, freedom and dignity of all citizens” recently 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.
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 is today being reduced to religious intolerance and violence. Our country faces ecological threats and 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, 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 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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