The Annual Conference of JHEASA on Oct 19-20, 2018 was held at Dhyana Ashram, Chennai with support of Loyola College, Chennai. There were 68 participants including 9 lay principals. We had short presentations and discussed in groups all 6 themes of Bilbao Assembly 2018. Fr. Joye James, the Secretary Higher Education in South Asia cordinated the meeting, which came up with a time bound action plan for our Colleges and Universities.
All the PCE’s of South Asia under the able and dynamic leadership of Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ, Secretary JEA SA gathered together for the Annual meeting in Arrupe Institute, Raia, Goa, the First Jesuit Province of South Asia. The theme of our deliberations was Connect – Collaborate – Transform. Three day meet began with the Key note address by Fr. William the Socius of Goa Province in the absence of Fr. Roland, the Provincial of Goa. He reminded us of our Jesuit Legacy in Education Apostolate and asked us to be relevant in our ministry.
Fr. Lancy Lobo gave an analysis of socio – political scenario of India. He also focused on the educational scenario of India. In present political and social situation he asked us to have some models such as constitutional model as well as neighbourhood model. He also recommended that we need to re – imagining the nation and to have an interreligious approach in our educational institutions. He also called upon to have citizenship of education focusing on the rights and duties of each citizens of our country. He called upon to be aware of the KEY( Know your Enemy)
Fr Tony and Fr Sunny Jacob helped us to have a recap of Bhuvaneshwar Trianniel2017 and JESEDURIO2017 Statement. Fr Sunny focused on the JESEDURIO which focused on the mandate of GC 36, the three fold reconciliation and told us that we need to focus in our educational apostolate. We had a beautiful sharing of Different provinces their rich fruitful ministries based on the action plans undertaken by different provinces of India and South Asia.
On the second day we had an input session from Ciara Buestur, from Ireland, a Community leader of Educate Magis a global networking of all Jesuit schools of the world. She spoke of the beginning of this great initiative which focuses on Together we can do better. She also called upon to share our resources in the website so that other schools of the globe could know what is happening in our schools in south Asia. Educate Magis is a forum where in we can access to our Jesuit Legacy of Secondary education as well as other spiritual practices we can have and practice in our schools. All the Jesuit schools of South Asia were called upon to be part of this global networks of Schools, and also to be the part of Global Citizenship.
On the second day afternoon we had a pilgrimage to Bom Jesu. It was really a spiritual experience. We had Mass at Main alter offered by Fr. Norbert Menezes, which helped us to get into the spirit St. Francis Xavier and our first fathers. We were enthused to be the persons of Magis and work for the greater Glory of God.
On the third day we had input session on Ecology by ADO, Lourdes Baptista from Delhi. He explained the module of Healing the broken world – the task force on Ecology which appreciates the great concerns which are taken up by different provinces of South Asia from the past 50 years. He also gave us the two modules which are well recognised of Taru Mitra and GJEM(Gujarat Environment Movement). He was also appreciative of the Karnataka province initiates to have a Eco Commission and Province Eco policy. He called upon to focus on Ecology in our schools. Fr. James PJ of Hazaribag explained the Eco Policy of JEA SA. Fr Ajith Xess of Ranchi and the Secretary of Central Zone Education Bureau. He gave us the model of 5 central zone provinces working together in the field of Education.
Human rights culture through Human rights education an initiative by Madurai Jesuits was explained to us by Fr. Aloysius Irudayam SJ and Fr Cyril from IDEAS Madurai which was started in 1997. Fr Cyril explained how his work in preparing the text books on human rights and how it has impacted on the students in Tamil Nadu and some schools in Bangalore.
Human Rights Education is a need of the hour is mainly because general public are very much aware of their rights. Therefore we need to be part of this movement. Secondly the government is becoming very repressive and we need to create awareness about their rights. Thirdly constitution itself is at stake. Therefore it is the need of the hour to educate our children on Constitution and human right education. HRE focuses on Human dignity. it is inborn,, it is universal. The prepared models on human Rights Education for 6th, 7th,8th,9th standard were given an explanation. The prepared text books were also presented to the delegates.
Fr Norbert Menezes enlightened us regarding the election scenario of India. He called upon to emphasise on secular aspect of our nation to our children and parents.
At the end of our deliberations Fr. Sunny and Mr. Lurdue Baptista helped us to have a concrete and time bound action plan. We in our 4 Zones sat together and came out with the action plans on the issues like Global Citizenship, Human rights and constitution education and Ecology for Education Apostolate in South Asia.
As concluding remarks Fr Sunny Jacob, the secretary thanked all the resource persons and all the delegates for participating actively in this three day deliberations and time bound action plans in the Assistancy.
We the delegates of JEA SA are indebted to the Goa province for the opportunity to have this meeting in Arrupe Institute, Raia. We are grateful to the great hospitality that we cherished during our stay. We are grateful to Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ for his vibrant leadership. It was the first JEA SA meet which had input sessions by the national and international level resource persons who focussed on the mandate given by the GC 36. At the end of these three days deliberations and prayerful reflections we commit ourselves connect with each other to bring about needed change in our education system based on our context, we commit ourselves to transform the society through collaboration and networking in all levels.
By Rohan Almeida SJ (Karnataka)
(8 November 2018)
*To see the photos go to the Gallery
By Jennie Hicke
From July 29 through August 2, 2012, for the first time in the history of the Society of Jesus, with the encouragement of Father General, and under the guidance of the International Commission on the Apostolate of Jesuit Education, the leaders of our secondary schools from around the world assembled in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A. for the International Colloquium on Jesuit Secondary Education. With over 400 participants from across the globe, their goal was to strengthen our global network by providing a venue to share ideas and resources and to discuss their strengths and challenges in the light of our Jesuit mission and identity as expressed in the documents from the thirty-fifth General Congregation of the Society of Jesus.
The Colloquium concluded with a statement of commitment that acknowledged that the international network of schools is uniquely suited to educate global citizens who would be able to participate in a globalization of solidarity, cooperation, and reconciliation that fully respects human life and dignity, and all of God’s creation. Participants committed to networking as a universal body, to raise awareness of the world and effectively help students face global challenges.
In 2014, a smaller representation of international key leaders gathered in Manresa and a much larger number joined via various social networks and live streaming to participate in the SIPEI (International Seminar on Ignatian Pedagogy and Spirituality). This Seminar focused on the four C’s – conscience, competence, compassion and commitment – as the pillars of and background for Jesuit Education. The seminar provided a unique opportunity to discuss, in depth, the meaning of each one of the four C’s and their implications for defining Jesuit/Ignatian education/pedagogy today.
The deliberations of the Seminar concluded that we should be a courageous collaborative network, forming people who actively seek the greater glory of God in the complex nature of our contemporary world and strengthen our commitment to justice locally, regionally and globally.
In 2017, the JESEDU-Rio2017 (International Congress for Jesuit Education Delegates) was held in Rio de Janeiro. The Congress was conceived as the final stage of the three-staged discernment process that began in 2012, recognizing the global character of our network, identifying our common roots and discussing current challenges. The Congress committed to thirteen action statements broken into four key areas: the experience of God; tradition and innovation; caring for our common home – reconciliation with God, humanity and creation; and sent into a global network. These key areas have been identified as areas for continuous review and focus for the education apostolate internationally.
This first nine-year cycle of discernment, called Discovering Our Apostolic Global Potential, has provided a way to ensure that our work as a global community is not only sustainable but is constantly cognoscente of our changing world and the need to be mindful of this as educators. While meetings alone are not sufficient in our quest to serve our universal mission, they provide structure, direction and an important element of human connection that is critical in our work.
The next cycle of discernment, called Walking as a Global Network at the Service of the Mission, begins in 2020 with the JESEDU-Jogja2020 Colloquium, which will take place in Sanata Dharma University, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
To know more about this Colloquium download the official announcement, which has been translated from English to Spanish and French.
This Colloquium will aim to bring together members of our school leadership teams, with the intent to experience first-hand the interconnectedness of the Jesuit network and to collaborate for the common good of our universal mission of serving a faith that does justice. The theme of the Colloquium is: “Educating for Depth and Reconciliation”. As clarified by GC36, we are companions sent on “a mission of reconciliation and justice.” The goal is to reflect and explore, as a global network, our responsibility and methods to educate for depth and reconciliation in our world today.
The Colloquium will be followed by a Seminar in 2023 and a Congress in 2026 to complete the second cycle.
Holy Father, brothers and sisters,
The confrontation with reality (No. 118-119) as part of discernment presupposes an adequate analysis (interpretation) of the reality that has been recognized. I perceive in the “Instrumentum Laboris” a simplified and negative view of secularization. Being a characteristic of the change of epoch in which we live is hardly mentioned in part I as a kind of dark stage in the process of overcoming, disappears in the second part in which it seeks to interpret reality and discern the action of God in history, to reappear hardly mentioned in some numbers of the third part, always in a negative tone.
What if we dare, instead, to see secularization as a sign of the times, in the theological sense that the Second Vatican Council gave to this expression? It is about seeing secularization, and the secular world that emerges from it, as one of the ways in which the Spirit is speaking and guiding us in this time. Instead of multiplying regrets for an idealized past that is gone, let us ask ourselves sincerely what the Lord is telling us through secularization, where the Holy Spirit leads us through that path that humanity is living.
Let us ask ourselves, for example, what secularization liberates us from. Answering leads us to differentiate the various types of secularization.
(a) One is the fighting secularism that fights against any form of religious faith from a militant atheism.
(b) In other cases, secularism is shown to be indifferent to religious experience.
(c) One of the frequent effects of secularization is the interruption of social conversations about religion that leads to ignorance about faith, religious experience, and religion itself.
(d) When society becomes secular, there arise in many the desire to know the experience of religion and faith. At this point, the fight against religion has been overcome and indifference is transformed into an investigation of the religious phenomenon. In this way, out of curiosity many young people come to see what they find.
Perceiving the process of secularization as a “sign of the times” leads to:
1) Making us aware of how the secular world frees us from being Christians automatically, out of habit, because we live in a Christian environment, because we are part of a Christian family in a Christian society. In a secular society, you are Christian because you want to be, because the question has been asked, it has been answered, and you choose to be a Christian.
2) Secular society also liberates us from basing religion in tribal identity, a national identity or any other identity alien to the spiritual experience that invites us to recognize ourselves as humans, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same father.
3) Secular society leads us to recover the importance of the announcement of the faith and the pastoral accompaniment of human and Christian maturation. The first announcement of the faith thus becomes a key dimension of the work of the church in these types of societies. The announcement of the faith is based on the testimony of the apostles of whom Jesus, the crucified-resurrected, let himself be seen. Today there are witnesses who have had a personal encounter with Christ and testify with their lives as disciples.
4) The announcement follows the long and complex process of accompanying the maturation of the faith. The experience of faith does not produce subjects of a lordship but voluntary followers of the Universal Kingdom of the crucified-resurrected of whom they have freely chosen to become disciples. Hence the importance of Christian communities. We know that the Christian faith is not lived in isolation; the Christian faith is lived in community and it is the community that guarantees that accompaniment of the process of maturation in the faith.
[Original Spanish text]
During his visit to Spain, in the Catalan region, Father Arturo Sosa gave a long interview to the weekly magazine of information and religious culture Catalunya Cristiana.
After a general presentation of the Superior General, journalists Jaime Aymar and Rosa María Jané Chueca underlined the range of subjects that Fr. Sosa was able to discuss with them. They describe him as an accessible man close to the people, who takes into account both lay people and members of the religious order in his vision of the future of the Society of Jesus. According to him, the core of the Jesuits’ message today is based on reconciliation and justice.
A fair part of the discussion focused on secularization, on the freedom it can bring compared to a Church of Christendom. Father General also revisited the expression “the audacity of the improbable and the impossible”, a theme that inspired the last General Congregation during which he was elected as the head of the Jesuits. He also underlined the central place prayer has in his life, in his way of living his service. He mentioned the call to prayer that he addressed to the whole Society at a time when the Jesuits are involved in a process of choosing apostolic preferences for the years to come.
The title of the article comes from a short part of the interview in which Fr. Sosa talks about the Jesuits’ relationship with the Pope, especially with Pope Francis. “Attacks on the Pope are launched against a model of Church,” we read. The General asserts that there is an organized campaign against Pope Francis. It comes, according to him, from groups that see the Church as an institution that possesses and defends untouchable dogmas and principles. The vision of the Church of Pope Francis, inherited from Vatican II, is that of a Church at the heart of the world, carrying a faith that must respond to the changing conditions of a humanity on the move. The Pope’s “Church model” is based on his pastoral experience in the peripheries of Latin American society. The Jesuits support this approach based on the discernment of situations, those of people and those of the world.
The interview is available in its entirety, in its original Spanish version, by clicking here
A three-day National Seminar on “Women in Household Economy: Issues and Challenges towards Gender Equality” was organized by Department of Women’s Studies, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi on 11th – 13th October, 2018 within its premises. This Seminar was inaugurated by Dr. Joye James SJ, Secretary of Jesuits in Higher Education Association of South Asia (JHEASA). Dr Denzil Fernandes SJ, the Executive Director of ISI, Delhi, extended a warm welcome to all delegates and Dr. Archana Sinha, the Convener of the Seminar and HoD, Department of Women's Studies, Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, introduced the Seminar and presented the dynamics of the Seminar. Ms. Aya Matsura, Gender Specialist, International Labour Office (ILO), New Delhi delivered the special lecture on “Care Work and Care Jobs for the Future of Decent Work”. Dr. Aasha Kapur Mehta, former Prof of Economics, Indian Institute of Public Adminsitration (IIPA), New Delhi, delivered Key Note Address on "Rectifying the Invisibility of Women's Work: Evidence from a few villages and slums". Twenty Five papers were presented by academicians, professors and research scholars from different parts of India during technical sessions which were chaired by eminent personalities such as Dr. Ritu Dewan, Director and Professor, Department of Economics, University of Mumbai; Dr Sabiha Hussain, Director, Sarojini Naidu Centre for Women's Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi; Dr. Vincent Ekka, HoD, Department of Tribal Studies, ISI, Delhi, and Sr. (Adv) Tresa Paul,; Dr. Sanghmitra Acharya, Centre for Social medicine and Community Health (CSMCH), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi; Ms. Jessy Augustine, Advisor on Gender and Development, World Vision India, New Delhi; Dr. Shanta Kerketta, Professor, Lady Irwin College, New Delhi; Dr. Shashi Bala, Fellow, V.V.Giri National Labour Institute, Noida; Dr. Shipra Maitra, Professor, Institute of Human Development, New Delhi. Ms. Subhalakshmi Nandi, International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW), New Delhi and Ms. Shalini Sinha, Women in Informal Employment Globalising and Organising (WEIGO), New Delhi were the panelists for the discussion "Women in Informal World of Work". Dr. Anushree Sinha, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), New Delhi, delivered Valedictory Address on "Work, Activity and Equality: Women in the Indian Household Economy". This National Seminar analyzed the conceptual issues in gender-based inequality within the domain of women in household economy; and reflected upon the loss in achievement due to inequality between men and women in terms of labour force participation and various dimensions of gender inequality. It also argued that the assumptions to capture women's work remain inadequate and misleading, resulting in only a partial recognition of gender inequalities in accounting for women's labour. The Seminar concluded with a formal Vote of Thanks by Dr. Archana Sinha.
Department of Women's Studies (Indian Social Institute)
By Junno Arocho Esteves • Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The Catholic Church must find a way to look at secularization as an opportunity to find new ways to proclaim the Gospel, the Jesuit superior general told the Synod of Bishops.
While the working document of the Synod dedicated to young people views secularization as “a dark phase that is in the process of being overcome,” the document offers no approach to “looking to interpret reality and discern God’s action in history,” said Jesuit Father Arturo Sosa Abascal.
“What if we try, instead, to look at secularization as a sign of the times, in the theological sense that the Second Vatican Council gave to this expression? It means looking at secularization, and the secular world that arises from it, as one of the ways the Spirit is speaking to us and guiding us in this time,” he told the synod Oct. 11.
Father Sosa began his brief talk by looking at the working document’s interpretation of secularization, which he said was viewed in a “simplified and negative” light.
Secularization, he affirmed, can range from a combative attitude, “a militant atheism,” that “wages war against any form of religious faith” to a more common form that interrupts “the social transmission of religion leading to ignorance regarding faith, religious experience and religion itself.”
However, if the church views secularization as a “sign of the times,” it can lead to a more authentic faith that challenges people to make a conscious choice to become Christian rather being “automatic Christians” who only practice their faith because of the society in which they live or their family traditions.
“Secular society also frees us from establishing in religion a tribal identity, a national identity or any other identity foreign to the spiritual experience that invites us to recognize each other as humans, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the same Father,” Father Sosa said.
A secularized culture, he added, also can help the church recover the importance of proclaiming the Gospel, which is “a key dimension of the work of the church in these types of societies” and is a fundamental experience of those who give witness to “a personal encounter with Christ.”
The experience of faith, Father Sosa said, “does not produce subjects of an earthly estate but rather voluntary followers of the universal estate of the Crucified-Risen One from who they have freely chosen to make themselves disciples.”
Article/Image Source: CatholicPhilly.com
TOGETHER WE CAN BE MORE AND BETTER:-
Young Jesuits Educators meet at Godavari Ashram, Katmandu on 6-12th of October- 2018 was organized by JEASA and ICAJE in a way to encourage spirited collaboration and networking among the young Jesuits who are pursuing Education in South Asia. There were about 21 delegates from South Asian Assistancy participated in the conference. The resourcepersons were Fr. José Mesa SJ Secretary for Education, Roman Curia, Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ, JEA South Asian Secretary of Jesuit Education, Fr. Keith Abranches SJ (Socius to POSA) and Fr. John Ravi SJ, PCE (Delhi).
It was an unpretentious effort to elucidate the prominence of ‘Being Global and Having a Global citizenship mind set to answer all the global concerns in an Ignatianway. Welcome address by Fr. AmritRai SJ, Regional Superior, Nepal, he clearly stated that “we are for others and only because of others we Jesuits carry out our given mission”, which set the conference to move ahead with clear precision, and as the conference got outspreaded it had some 5-crowning moments for the participants.
1. Enriching Moment: - “Who you learn from is as important as what you learn”
The Enriching learning came from Fr. Jose Mesa SJ, who animated the seminar constantly emphasized the prerequisite to be ‘An Global Jesuit ’ to do that he asked us to be more networking, collaborating, connecting and communicating our Ignatain way with all. He went on to elucidate during the seminar is that we are all invited to have a transformed experience, by knowing the contemporary path to Jesuit education and constantly renewing it as a living tradition of the Society of Jesus.
In a way to do that Fr. Mesa quantifiedand enumerated the phase and sequence of educational colloquium starting from the time Our Founder Father Ignatius with First companions to till the contemporary education symposiums , He indicated that the first Phase from the ‘The Ratio Studiorum’ (The Plan, System and method of studies) 1599, the First document on education which focused on the ‘Student Oriented Approach’, and then as a Second phase the Secretariat for education (1967) called for a ‘Renewal of Education’, As a Third Phase Fr. Arrupe(1973), interposition on education ‘for men and women for the others’, and as the fourth phase ICAJE (1980)which called for ‘a precision and excellence in our approach to Jesuit Education’ ,the Fifth phase emphasized ‘the Characteristics of Jesuit education’ (1986), which always blend with the true Ignatian Charisma and the Seventh Phase was the ‘Ignatian Pedagogical paradigm’IPP(1993) wherein Fr. Kolvenbach detailed the importance of being ‘the men and women for and with others’ by consolidating the inkling of Fr. Arrupe’s and added the 4Cs, to build a Humane Society of Men and Women of ‘ Conscience, Competence, Compassion and Commitment’.The Eighth Phase has got a 3-Cycle Programme which was born in a way to discover our ‘Apostolic legacy Apostolic Potential and Apostolic Aggressiveness’, in that as first Cycle was the International Colloquium for Jesuit Secondary Education (ICJSE) in Boston, Massachusetts - USA (2012), where they confessed ‘ the requisite and desire to build a global network among Jesuit schools’. The Second Cycle is SIPEI (2014) Manresa, Spain where they‘deliberated on the renewal of the pedagogy’, and Educate Magis (2015) was a result of it, it was a great venture to communicate and connect everyone by technology, The Third Cycle is JESEDU -Rio2017, the colloquium decide ‘to work together to endorse constant renewal and innovation in our educational projects’. And the as the Fourth Cycle II- JESEDU (2020) at Indonesia which is envisioned to consolidate all the above three cycles.
Fr. Jose Mesa SJ after presenting the historicand heroic preview on Jesuit Education and Global context he went on to urge us to create a new- pioneering approach in our education methods, he went on to say that “our institutionsshould not be a museum or a heritage buildings, and it is not a Poor School for Poor People or An Old School in New Buildings, but he invited us to repetitively renew – recreate –reshape with Ignatian Values and Characters. And unassumingly suggested us to face the contextual challenges with HOLY BOLDNESS by connecting oneself as a Global citizen.
2. Enabling Moment: - “Problem can come from anywhere but we bring the solution”
Frs. Keith Abranches SJ, who presented the South Asian perspective by posing the Context and challenges and also lead us with a recollection. He principally stressed to say that the Context where we live is mostly lop-sided with unpredictable events.The challenges and concern of today iscoming from both within the system and the context out, he asked us to go to the roots, to answer the challenges by saying that ‘If You have a Why, You will find a how ’.
3. Empowering Moment: -‘The Questions can deepen us but the answers can expand us”
Fr. John Ravi SJ, presentations were very intensifying and disquieting. He gave us a glimpse on Jesuit education and its characters, by presenting the (PEACE) Political- Ethical And cultural- Economical Socio –context in the avaricious world. He gave us the questions of today’s world in the field of education to deepen ourselves and the answers to expand our wisdom. He made us to feel precisely we are all inadequate, underperformers and the insufficient in our Jesuit educational institutions, in a way to strengthen ourselves and the institutions he proposed a paradigm shift for the Jesuit educators to be animators, seekers and efficacious. He also asked to propose ways and means to inculcate the Jesuit values and principles among the staff and students, and also asked to become an inspiration to achieve the goals and objectives of Jesuit education.
Fr. Vernon D’cuna SJ, General Assistant to Rome Curia for SA, also fired his seven ammos to challenge us so that we could embrace the true Ignatian spirit, he invited us to be contributors, transformers, inspirers, collaborators, networkers, co-travelers and spiritual in the field of educations.
4. Encouraging Moment: -“Impossible can become possible and the Improbable can become probable if it is the will of the Lord”
Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ, JEA secretary of South Asia made us to profoundly reflect and balance oneself to connect, network and communicate with the people of good will, asking us to find the sole purpose of educational institutions. He also presented the great work which has been done in the south Asian context, he was very satisfied to know the mandatory given by the society is being carried out in some Provinces namely, The imparting of the Ignatain Legacy on ‘THE EXAMEN’, in our schools and the urgency to have the cosmic reconciliations to heal the broken world, and the need to be always working as a TEAM (Together Everyone can Achieve More). He was always encouraging us to march forward with hope and gratitude trusting in the Lord.
5. Enacting Moment: -“The Problem with Jesuits is not what they don’t know, it is all about what they don’t do”.
The Action Plan was made to continue the legacy of this experience. There were 4-Action pans were made with its when and How? The first one was to start or strengthen “THE EXAMEN” in our schools, The Second one was to from and consolidate the “THE ALUMNI” in our educational zones, the third was to impart the “THE IGNATIAN LEGACY’ to all our collaborators by sharing the spirituality that underpins our Schools. Fourthly to build a global perspective by “NETWORKING” by registering in to the Jesuit website, that is educate Magis. All these are planned and will be executed on a time bound manner.
As a Group of Young Jesuits Educators we vouch to carry a deep felt gratitude to Almighty Father and to the Society of Jesus in the form of ICAJE AND JEASA for giving us this opportunity, and very special thanks to our Provinces who trusted in their men. And we will surely continue to carry forward this transforming experience by becoming the witness of excellence, by imbibing and imparting the Ignatian legacy and by reading the contextual need to renew-reinvent- renovate- reimagineand reshape of educational system by keeping all the nuances of Igantain legacy.
6. Educate Magis; a platform for us to be truely global
We had a very fruitful and enriching interaction with Educate Magis, Ciara was online with us explaining us all the recent initiatives by the Global network and the possibilities for us to be part of the global network. She explained us all the features of the network and clarified the questions raised by the participants. We decided to be part of it by contributing the web site and also connecting our class rooms globally. Thank you Ciara for the wonderful online session with us.
Fr. Ananad SJ (GUJ)
12 October 2018
Go to Gallery for more photos of the Training programme.
Monday 01 October 2018
This month would mark the beginning of the year-long celebrations for the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a time for reflection and I would like to take you through a Gandhi Test.
The world has surely gone downhill in terms of his most cherished ideal: non-violence. Today, we see aggression in everything; from our words to our social behaviour and our relationship with nature. Our intolerance has hit rock bottom. We score a zero-minus on this.
Then comes the issue of development. Gandhi was not just about throwing out the British. He was about what would come next. He thought about it; wrote about it; built a distinctly different opinion about what needs to be done. His was (is) the alternative ideology to Karl Marx and Adam Smith. Here again, we are at zero, or perhaps a little above.
Gandhi lives on primarily because of the sheer force of his ideas; not because we have put them into practice. It is a fact that Gandhi died because his followers chose to kill him by their deeds. They took to living in ashrams, taking his ideas to closed spaces. They retired from the world and made Gandhism retro. Whereas Gandhi—despite living in an ashram and liking the symbolism of it—engaged with the world. It is we who have made him a narrow metaphysical icon. He lived for the politics of his times. He moved millions without moving himself.
Today, the best we know of Gandhi’s ideas is khadi (handspun cloth)—it’s back in fashion. But what we don’t know, and are not told about, is why Gandhi pushed for khadi. He used it as his instrument of independence; not only from the British but also from industrialisation—which was the order of the day, then and now. For him khadi was about employment, not for the masses, but by the masses. For him, khadi was about a particular seed of the cotton plant, which could be spun by a large number of people. The cotton variety that the British brought to Indian farms would only be spun in the machines of Lancashire. So, it was also about employment generation not by machines but by the masses. It was about localisation and not globalisation.
This cotton variety of Gandhi’s choice was also an indigenous seed. It used less water and had more pest resistance. It would have been appropriate to the environment of the country. Farmers would not have had to commit suicide due to high input costs and high risks of crop failure. But this was possible if we had worked according to this model.
This is why Gandhi is still relevant. Both capitalism and communism have failed us in terms of finding an answer to unemployment and environmental threats. The world of Smith is pushing towards more automation—believing that increased productivity will increase opportunity and skills. The world of Marx is finding it difficult to move beyond the formalised industry and trade unions. They can’t handle the fact that the world of employment is in the hands of individual entrepreneurs of all hues. Their development model is not much different from their hated ideological rivals.
I can say this with absolute certainty when it comes to environment. Both models are and will push the world to a catastrophic disaster of climate change because of their form of development. Gandhi is not outdated it’s we who don’t know how to practice him. We don’t have leaders who can take his ideas and adapt and rework them for today’s world. The most important “thing” about Gandhi, in my view, was his ability to work with his ideas to meet objectives—but with his absolute and non-negotiable principles of non-violence, justice and equality.
Finally on the Gandhi Test, the only aspect where we can boast of a little higher than a zero mark is democracy. This is not to say that we have taken his idea of the village republic—the deepening of democracy so as to practice it at a doable scale—where it needs to go. We have failed on that. We have instead decided to strengthen representative democracy as against his vision of participatory democracy. But in spite of all threats from old-fashioned but still in vogue dictators to new-fashioned takeover of our privacy; democracy lives, just about.
But it is not enough. With the 150th birth anniversary just a year away, let’s take a moment to think of Gandhi. Of him and like him.
Dr. Sunita Narain
Women of different faiths are traveling across parts of India to foster peace and goodwill in their country, which they say is beset by sectarian intolerance and violence.
Some 100 women began their journey — named Batein Aman Ki or Talks of Peace — on Sept. 20. Five caravan groups began from different parts of the country and are scheduled to converge on New Delhi on Oct. 13.
The five caravans, each comprising some 20-25 women, will pass through hundreds of towns, cities and villages with message of peace and unity. Each group aims to address public meetings to stress this ideal, organizers said.
"We are getting very good response from people of all walks of lives," said Joycia Thorat, a Christian social worker and part of the organizing team.
Several rights groups and faith-based women groups — with Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi and Sikh backgrounds — have joined the program, Thorat said.
"The purpose is to stress the need to uphold the constitutional values of secularism and religious freedom to help harmonious existence of people of different religions in the country," she said.
Rajkumari Durga, a Hindu social worker from western Rajasthan state and campaign participant, told ucanews.com that India's social situation has worsened after hard-line Hindu groups began attempting to make India a nation of Hindu hegemony.
Last year, 111 people were killed and at least 2,384 injured in 822 cases of sectarian violence, the highest figure in the past three years. In 2016, some 86 were killed and 2,321 injured in 703 incidents of religion-based violence, said an official report released earlier this year.
Opposition parties say the pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) encourages a "divisive" policy that supports violence against religious minorities in an attempt to consolidate Hindu majority votes ahead of next year's general elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP controls governments in 19 of India's 29 states but Christian and Muslim leaders say their people face violence and intimidation at the hands of BJP-supporting Hindu groups, who work to make India a Hindu-only nation.
"We are living in a period akin to colonial rule as personal rights and freedom of expression has been under great threat during the past four years," Durga said referring to violence and intimidation meted out to those who criticize the ideology of Hindu-nationhood.
"We are facing a serious threat to our constitutional rights of freedom of expression and religion … from right-wing Hindu groups," said Durga.
She said hard-line Hindu groups are projecting themselves as champions of Hindu interests. "As a Hindu I do not find any threat to the Hindu religion," she said. "I do not think any conversions of Hindus occurs through force or allurement as is alleged."
Such hard-line Hindu allegations that provoke attacks on Christians will be discussed in their numerous public engagements, Durga said.
The events will stress such lies are being used for political purposes, spreading hatred against other religions, she said.
"They spread hatred, and we reply with love," she said.
Shabnam Hashmi, a social activist and Muslim, told ucanews.com the initiative aims to embolden people "to speak their minds on the forces that are out there to destroy us."
"Unless we ourselves are ready to come out for our protection, no one is going to do it for us. It is our humble effort to wake up those in slumber to protect ourselves and generations to come," she said.
Brinelle D'Souza, a professor at Tata Institute of Social Science in Mumbai, told ucanews.com that their mission is "to preserve the secular fabric" of the country and strengthen its "democratic values as enshrined in the constitution."