Indian Republic Day: fight violence and intolerance says Archbishop Mumbai


Mumbai: January 26, 2008. (AsiaNews) - Our founding Fathers had enshrined religious freedom in our constitution making India a Sovereign Democratic Republic. It a matter of great disappointment that certain fringe elements unleashed a wave of violence against the Christians in Orissa. I am deeply disturbed at the unabated spate of attacks on innocent Christians, their homes, institutions and their leaders in Orissa, ostensibly perpetrated in the name of religion and caste. This is a blot on the secular and democratic character of our nation. Our founding fathers had enshrined in the Constitution of India, 'the right to freedom of religion under Article 25. Attacking another in the name of religion has never been the teaching of any religion. It is deeply deplorable that extremists are distorting and hijacking religion for their own vested interests. It is also that the violence continued for so long, without the authorities doing much to stem these attacks against the Christians. This carnage in Orissa was a matter of great shame for the country, Religious freedom is a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution of India and sadly even the reports have proven that the violence in Orissa was pre-planned by misguided elements who were being allowed to continue their anti Christian violence with impunity. It is a matter of regret that the law-enforcing authorities of the State displayed inaction and inefficiency in the face of such attacks. On Republic Day, I appeal urgently to every one to work towards building a climate of tolerance and peaceful coexistence among all peoples as the only guarantee of safety, strength, progress and unity of our Nation. India is a great country with rich cultural and religious plurality. There is so much that is common in religions, of course the differences are also identifiable. It is for us to decide whether we will join forces that unite us or that separate us. Religions can bring people together. Religious freedom and mutual respect for different religions is an important underlying principle of pluralism and democracy. Let all religious leaders join hands to build a better tomorrow. It is a matter of great legitimate pride for us Indian, that a woman, Mrs Pratibha Patil, will take the salute as the head of the State as President of India. Sadly, the status of women in the home and community has not greatly improved in many parts of India. Gender discrimination unfortunately still exists the women is not being given her rightly place in society. The grave evil of female infanticide and female feticide is increasingly being practiced even by the educated upwardly mobile population of India. Another cause for concern is the increasing case of domestic violence in the country. Domestic violence is dehumanizes the person, treats the person like an object. Statistics have revealed that around two-third of married women in India were victims of domestic violence Today violence against women, children and the elderly is a universal phenomenon but at the same time it often remains invisible. Domestic violence which occurs within the four walls of the house is even more harmful for the victim in terms of health and life. It cuts across social, cultural, economic and religious barriers and manifests itself in various forms i.e. it could be physical, psychological and emotional violence. So, on our 59th Republic Day let all of us resolve to build bridges of peace, harmony and mutual respect and tolerance. All of us have to contribute to the country to make India a great Republic. Let us together build a great India. God Bless India!

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