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Poverty and attacks on life threaten Indian democracy: Card. Gracias
Mumbai, 27 January 2014: On the occasion of 65th Republic Day of India, the President of the Episcopal Conference illustrated the positive sides of the country, but also challenges to be overcome. On January 26, 1950 the Constitution of India 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".
Card. Oswald Gracias, President of the Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI) and archbishop of Mumbai, reflected with AsiaNews on the meaning of the Republic Day. Our Constitution is our charter of democracy and of the rights of the people, said the Cardinal, adding 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, inviting all to rededicate 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. Cardinal Gracias said: our country faces, unprecedented challenges like the scandal of glaring inequalities and dehumanizing poverty, the violence on women and the attacks on life and threats to ecology.
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.
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, he said.