The Indian Church supports Hazare, but is perplexed by his methods

» 08/24/2011 13:17

by Nirmala Carvalho
Anti-corruption activist continues hunger strike refusing to be sustained by a drip. Talks between political parties and his supporters to amend the bill before Parliament. Card. Gracias: “Ending corruption is an urgent need.”

Mumbai (Asia News) – Anna Hazare’s hunger strike continues in support of anti-corruption law, a battle that the Church supports, even if it is cautious and has some reservations about the means used by the activist, as claimed by Card. Gracias, President of the Indian Bishops Conference, and the Archbishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao. Means that also raise questions in broad sectors of Indian society (08/23/2011 Anna Hazare’s phony battle could destroy India).

The 74 year-old activist, whose health has deteriorated since yesterday, has refused the intervention of the doctors who advised he be put on a drip. In the afternoon there will be a meeting of leaders of all parties to seek a way out of the standoff on the proposed legislation to introduce an anti-corruption agency (Lokpal) able to judge even the highest offices of the state. In a long speech from the stage of the esplanade of the Ramlila in New Delhi this morning Anna Hazare reiterated his call for an anti corruption bill ”that includes everyone from village officials up to government ministers.” Despite his physical weakening the 74-year-old activist, assured his supporters that he “still has the forces to continue”. Hazare, is visibly thinner and has bags under his eyes. From what emerges from negotiations, Singh mediators, which include the influential finance minister Pranab Mukherjee have agreed to some important changes, such as including the premier within the scope of the anti-corruption agency (Lokpal) scope, but according to the ”Anna” team three points of disagreement remain.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, President of the Indian bishops’ conference, expressed the support of the Catholic Church but also calls for flexibility in achieving the goal: “The Church of India prays for the health of Anna Hazare, Annaji is precious for the country and I earnestly pray to God for his health. I appeal to Annaji, that his health is important, his person is important and he has shown the government the desires and needs of the common people. Ending corruption is the urgent need of the hour and we must achieve this urgently and effectively”.

The cardinal continued: “Corruption is among the biggest problems of our country. Along with Archbishop Vincent Concessio we have strongly backed the anti Corruption and are strongly committed to seeking a way to eradicate and end Corruption and we support this movement till the end. As the CBCI President, I appeal to the Government and to Anna Hazare to be flexible for the good of the nation.We need to address the pros and cons of the Bill and come to an expeditious solution. Anna Hazare has compelled the Government to think about this Corruption seriously and urgently as this had been pending for far too long”.

The negative effects of corruption are felt by all, said the cardinal, and, unfortunately, the poorest of the poor suffer most. “Ironically of all the good schemes that the government has initiated for the poor, which aims at ensuring the right to work and food security of all in India. Sadly however, but widespread Corruption could undermine all the objectives of this government , thus jeopardizing the realization of the right to food of the poorest households and right to work of our illiterate landless labourers.”

The Archbishop of Delhi, Vincent M. Concessao, has taken a position on the issue, supporting the battle of Hazare, but invoking the necessity to follow the democratic process: ” Corruption is not only illegal it is also immoral, unjust and exploits the helplessness of people who are forced into bribing,” he told AsiaNews. “The tremendous response of the people to Anna’s appeal is an indication of how prevalent the problem is and that the people’s awareness of the problem has grown. We need an effective Lokpal to deter people from corruption as a first step towards a corruption free India. ”

The archbishop, who is also a founding member of “India Against Corruption” (IAC) stresses the importance of democracy: “We can not put aside the democratic process. I am in favour of fasting, to highlight a problem, but a fast unto death is not acceptable because life is a gift from God and only God has the right to take it. ” Archbishop Concessao concludes: “What we need is for MPs to amend the Lokpal law to ensure its effectiveness.”