SAAJNIssue 5 / Summer / August 2019
Mission: Audacity of the Impossible
1. Drawing from Nature: Art and Mother Earth.
2. Global Right to Food and Nutrition Meeting, Jakarta.
3. Young Jesuits in Islamic Ministry, meeting in Lebanon.
4. REGAE Phase II Discernment meeting ISI_Bangalore.
5. Recommendation on DNEP 2019, submitted by JEA to MHRD.
6. ADO in Liveweek CSR Exhibition and Conference, Mumbai.
Monsoon clouds are still active in Northern India bringing much solace to the torturing summer heat. The clouds carry memories of the sea to the distant land. They translate those memories into rain drops, soaking the earth and watering the fields. Memories have their own life. They capture life-patterns giving it a lasting meaning. They weave life into retainable shapes.
After the last general elections in India and after the devastating bomb-attacks in Sri Lankan churches, people raise questions recalling their memories. Is this the India that the founding fathers/mothers of our Constitution envisaged? Is this what the peace-loving people of Sri Lanka bargained for during these years of war and violence? Violence and exclusion are looming large among the minorities in South Asian countries? Mob lynching in the name of cow protection and demonizing the opposition in the name of the minorities – these have become the new normal. And the victims are minorities of all shades.
It’s time to recall memories – of struggle, pain and victory – to form ourselves into independent countries and to build South Asia of our dreams. We need to create new stories of old memories. Reliving memories becomes crucial when there are attempts to erase memories and enforce manufactured ‘remembrances’.
Judaeo-Christian tradition lives on memories: “Remember Israel, you were once in Egypt; Do this in memory of me”. Recalling, reliving and celebrating memories constitute communities. Unfortunately today most of the memories, in most of the traditions, in the course of remembering tend to exclude others. It is important to create and live memories that include all.
Memories are like monsoon clouds, formed in the deep interiors of experience, travelling across the lands and pouring down on parched lands of our daily living, bringing forth ‘abundance’. We need to create memories that weave people’s lives together, that connect peoples beyond borders, which build communities beyond prejudices.
Let us create South Asian Memories that includes, builds and transforms peoples and cultures.
Fr George Pattery, S.J. – President, Jesuit Conference of South Asia.
NINETEEN professional Artists from different parts of India – women and men, Sisters and Fathers – from Bihar, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, different corners of Kerala, and Manila, Philippines, converged at ‘Mitraniketan’, Vagamon, a hospital built by the legendary British-Indian Architect, Laurie Baker, for VAW (Vagamon Artists’ Workshop). Vagamon, in the Western Ghats, was indeed the place to commune with Nature, and convert the communion with paint, brush and canvass – fired by imagination and artistic creativity, into Works of Art.
Highly gifted Warli Adivasis from Maharashtra created Warli Paintings; a young woman doing her BFA (Bachelor in Fine Arts); a Jesuit professor of Fine Arts from “Ateneo de Manila”, Philippines who created art from waste pieces of cloth; a venerable priest teaching Theology painted the pain of Paris at the destruction of “Notre-Dame Cathedral”; a Belgian Sister made tiny dolls that depict the life of poor women; a Cartoonist whose cartoons communicated volumes; a busy Parish Priest who painted delicate, colourful works of art; Sisters with Art Degrees from India and Italy; a Monk from the well-known Kurishumala Ashram of Vagamon; a CMI; a Capuchin; a few Jesuits;…. The place, the diversity and variety of Artists and Art made VAW a wowing experience for all!
We mingled and merged, painted at early mornings, all through the day and late nights. In the evenings we gathered to share, .. see, hear, discuss,.. enjoy the imagination, creativity, skills, .. committment of each one. All were enjoying themselves, celebrating life, painting with joyful intensity, inspired by Mother Earth around us.
Every day we celebrated the Eucharist in God’s own cathedral under the sky in the shade of trees, with birds and crickets joining us, chirping away, …to praise and thank God. It was an experience of the Creator Lord’s presence with us, celebrated with gratitude.
One day was dedicated to “CHILDREN/YOUTH – ART AND MOTHER EARTH”.
Environmental and Art awareness programs were organized for 150 youth from all over Kerala, preparing for UPSC exam, and a group of 40 children from around Vagamon. This workshop was conducted by Ms.Biju Cherayath, Shri Jothi Xavier, Frs.P.S.Antony & Robert Athickal, SJ. Divided in groups of 50, one group was led to a ‘Nature Walk’ – to relish nature – always seen, but rarely noticed and closely observed. Another group sang and danced with abandon in the open, as only children/youth can do it, led by P.S.Antony with Environmental Malayalam songs. The third group admired, interacted and discussed with the VAW Artists who were painting. The younger children later painted in small groups with their fingers, etc.. on big sheets of drawing paper. The whole atmosphere was bubbly with kids and youth – full of life, enthusiasm, chatter, laughter,… and much learning, with joy and fun.
Three Artists from three Jesuit nurtured organizations – Frs.Roy Thottathil, Rappai Poothokaren, Sheise Pornnakottu, S.J, from CARP (Company of Artists for Radiance of Peace, Kerala), GJEM (Gujarat Jesuit Ecology Mission, Gujarat), and LIPI (Loyola Institute of Peace and International relations, Kerala), gathered at Sameeksha, Kalady, in May, 2018. Our creativity and commitment to Mother Earth and Art bloomed into a dream – an Art & Ecology workshop. The POSA of JCSA, Fr. George Pattery, S.J. gave his blessings and support. Human in/per-spiration and material resources from CARP, GJEM and LIPI nurtured the dream into a reality, after nearly a year. The result was VAW at Vagamon, Kerala, April 25 to May 2, 2019, named “DRAWING FROM NATURE – ART & MOTHER EARTH”.
Much valuable help and support came from Shri Eby Emmanuel, the Secretary of the ‘Mitraniketan Trust’, fully immersed in Eco Activism; Shri Reji Iype, deeply involved in spreading Environmental Action and Fr.Bobby, OFM, a man to inspire and ‘get things done’. The ladies managing ‘Mitraniketan’, always with a warm smile, made VAW experience very familial and happy.
Global Right to Food and Nutrition meet at Jakarta – Indonesia.
By Matters India Reporter
Jakarta, May 25, 2019: An international gathering of food right activists has denounced transnational firms dictating what people should cultivate, trade and consume.
The corporations increasing role in policy making gives the state to excuse itself from its duty to uphold people’s human rights, bemoaned 44 participants of the Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition that met May 20-24 in Jakarta.
The network’s fifth global meeting noted that the corporations try to convince governments to normalize “multi-stakeholderism” that great control over policy making. However, it prevents governments to address private actors’ conflict of interest in the food system, the participants explained.
The Global Network strives to strengthen global movement for the right to food and nutrition. Its members work together to mobilize grassroots struggles against violations of the Right to Food.
The network also helps develop and share methodologies that promote co-construction and exchange of knowledge and highlights the impact of human rights violations on the Right to Food and Nutrition. It also facilitates collective action and advocacy.
The participants denounced corporations’ aggressive advertising of ultra-processed foods, breast-milk substitutes and sugar-laden beverages that threatens people’s well-being.
They also condemned corporate grabbing natural resources such as land, water, oceans, and seeds. They also studied emerging threats to society masked by technology and innovation.
Patenting of living organisms after collecting land data and seeds has led to the privatization of seeds, finacialization of land, and the implementation of genetic modifications on plants and animals that will have huge impacts on world’s ecosystem and biodiversity.
The participants recognized the serious impact that conflict, occupation, and war has on the basic human rights and dignity of millions of people globally.
The food activists condemned the increased weaponization of food aid as happened in Venezuela, or the aid blockages in Yemen and Syria, leading to famine-like conditions. Such a situation betrays the international community’s failure to uphold principles of humanitarian law, and check the human cost of political conflicts.
These conflicts have created a global refugee and migration crisis, they noted.
The meet also denounced neo-colonialism and globalization that use trade agreements, financial and technological aid for control nations. These legitimize structural exploitation and occupation and deny true sovereignty for former colonies and independent states,” the meeting added.
Therefore, the activists resolved to:
- Build and strengthen the Right to Food and Nutrition movement to face global challenges, through developing methodologies and strategies to guarantee rights, build regional and national resilience to resist regressive policies
- Build the capacity of the movement to have intersectionality as a perspective — going beyond human created borders– understanding multiple forms of discrimination, building solidarity across struggles;
- The decolonize self, organizations, food systems, social, economical and cultural systems;
- Shift power and control to communities, and ensure citizens participation in decision making;
- Reaffirm commitment to the struggle against the grabbing of natural resources, including land, forests, oceans, rivers, lakes, lagoons, seeds, and local animal genetic resources.
- Prioritize the support to implementation of the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas, adopted in December 2018, as a result of a long social movement struggle.
- Prioritize the support to real solutions to face climate through the transition to agroecological food systems, embedded in traditional knowledge, also as a way to ensure healthier diets.
- Promote real solutions to hunger, malnutrition and obesity, based in community visions and leadership, creating alternatives, and a challenging co-opted narratives, dominate market dynamics and systems, corporate power and charitable false solutions.
The meeting was sifted from Kandy in Sri Lanka to Indonesia because of the Easter Sunday bomb attacks in the island nation.
The participants urged the Sri Lankan representatives to convey their condolences to their countrymen deeply impacted by this act of hate and violence.
Jesuit food right activist Father Irudaya Jothi, who represented India, bemoaned growing erosion of human rights. “This extreme conservative and authoritarian wave has gained ground across the world, deepening all forms of xenophobia, racism, discrimination, and violence against rights defenders and marginalized communities.”
Father Jothi condemned criminalization of social movements and human rights defenders and persecution of small scale food producers in the name of property rights. He cited the case of Pepsico suing farmers in India for saving seeds as an example.
Global food production is increasingly based on a few staple export crops while nutritious, locally grown, produced by peasants and indigenous peoples are being replaced by low quality, ultra-processed products.
Mariana Menenes Santarelli from Brazil noted an increase in legal, constitutional and policy frameworks for the right to food in the past 15 years. This has opened up spaces for people’s participation at national level. This was possible largely due to the struggles and advocacy of networks and movements, such as the Global Network, she claimed.
At the same time, the global Right to Food movement has faced major setback after the Brazilian president winding up the Food and Nutrition Security Council and nation’s adopting repressive environment, she explained. The movement has emerged as the role model for building meaningful policies that help reduce hunger in the world.
Jesuits Among Muslims” and “Young Jesuits in Islamic Studies” met in Lebanon
The group of “Jesuits Among Muslims” (JAM) brings together, from five continents, about sixty Companions who have received a mission among Muslims and have the desire to reflect and share their experience together. Working in different sectors they currently meet every two years to reflect together on their experience and the dynamics at work today among Muslims. This month of July, twenty-eight of them met in Lebanon, with the general theme: “Arab Islam in the Middle East and in the World: New Configurations”. This time, this JAM meeting was preceded by another one that brought together the youngest among us for two days, twelve “Young Jesuits in Islamic studies” (YJIS).
The JAM meeting startedwith a focus on two dynamics that have affected the region and the Muslim world globally: the division between Sunnis and Shiites which seems to transform itself into a cold war and the evolution of Islam in Saudi Arabia which is slowly opening itself to a dialoguing approach. Then we continued with Egypt, where 2014 was a pivotal year as the Cheikh of al-Azhar dared to say: “Daesh is our problem”, encouraging a search for remedies against extremism.
We explored as well what was happening in the Maghreb region and in the Holy Land, but we focused obviously on Lebanon where for a full day we talked with the Companions in charge of several institutions in Beirut. Beyond the remarkable activities they shared with us, it was their personal itineraries that touched us the most during this day. By simply sharing with us their personal life stories, they allowed us to deeply understand how the events of recent years in their region have profoundly transformed their hearts, opening them to a deep desire to encounter “the other”, not as a threat but as a promise for the future.
Then we went all around the world, hearing companions speaking about Islam in their regionand the challenges they meet, or offering a reflection on such things as the Abu Dhabi documentsigned in February 2019 by Pope Francis and the Sheikh of Al-Azhar, “on human brotherhood for world peace and common coexistence” or on a book that has marked the field of Islamic studies in recent years such as Shahab Ahmed, What is Islam?
In conclusion, we heard a summary of theYJIS meeting where, in their sharings, the young Jesuits had insisted on the importance of relationships: first of all, with the Muslims, a major source of consolation for them; with God who called them to a ministry of reconciliation; among themselves; with Companions who unfortunately do not always understand their call; with those who have been a source of inspiration for them; andwith “mentors” they wish to find to help them see more clearly where to go.
Then we finished our meeting with a time of evaluation where four calls were heard: (1) giving attention to the formation of young Jesuit as all should receive an introduction about how to engage with Muslims and Islam; (2)promoting a positive engagement with Muslims in the Society and in the Church, inviting to critical thinking; (3) collaborating with others in this ministry (a Dominican from IDEO was present in our meeting); (4) need for a promoter of our engagement with Muslims, who would coordinate it and be the editor of a website dedicated to this engagement, making it visible, in the Spirit of Pope Francis.
Jean-Marc Balhan SJ & Victor Edwin SJ
REGAE II- to APOSTOLIC PLANNING
A select group of 47 Jesuits from all the four zones gathered at ISI Bengaluru from 14-17 August 2019 to consider the consolidated report of REGAE II to confirm and affirm all that the Jesuits in 60 Zonal programmes had said about areas of renewal and restructuring of the Conference.
In an atmosphere of prayer and reflection they looked at the report, part by part, to recognise consolations and desolations. Secondly, this meeting has looked at how Apostolic Planning the Conference could do based on UAP to come out with Conference Apostolic Plan (CAP). From this meeting a report is prepared to be placed at JCSA meeting in October in Ranchi for actualising the suggested Apostolic Priorities and the ways in which we would approach to reorienting and restructuring our structures and principles of governance, leading to Apostolic effectiveness.
The meeting of the select group in Bengaluru reaffirmed universality of our mission in South Asia and how we should move towards planning our life and mission.
Joe Arun, SJ
Recommendations on DNEP 2019, submitted to MHRD by JEA
In response to the HRD ministry invite for feedback / comments on the DNEP 2019, JEA submitted its recommendation to the Minister on 30th July 2019. We submitted the same to the Chairman of the Drafting Commission Dr. Kasturirangan. He appreciated our suggestions through a letter written to the Secretary, JEA.
One overarching concern we have are highlighted below. The DNEP 2019 must be subject to the Constitution of India and all articles related to the protection and rights of minorities. The DNEP 2019 must not contravene or transgress the precedents of established law especially the several Supreme Court judgements relating to education.
In addition, the consultation felt it important to reiterate the following:
- We feel that the proposed formula of 5+3+3+4 could be counterproductive / detrimental to the intellectual growth of the child who is barely out of his infancy.
- The three-language policy, while well intentioned, must be forward looking and have a lifespan of at least two generations (2070).
- In providing for the needs of a nation as diversified as India, it may perhaps be fitting to distinguish between urban and rural schools as one standardized policy many not serve the special needs of both.
- For a healthy federal polity, it is important that education remain a state subject with some aspects on the concurrent list and there be no attempt to centralize it further as it is proposed in the Rashtriya Shiksha Aayog. The consultation believes that there is no scope for such an Aayog.
- The DNEP 2019, has incorrectly interpreted the establishment of minority schools as primarily and perhaps exclusively, serving the needs of minority groups (on page 194). It further aggravates this by presuming that school managements have misused the provision. Such misinterpretation and misquoting maligns centuries of good work by minority communities in the service of the nation. It is always open to the government to take legal action on the rare offender.
- We take exception to the unparliamentary language targeting teacher education institutions which have contributed to nation building (on page 121 and maliciously repeated several times in the document). Painting all teacher training institutions as ‘corrupt’ and ‘substandard’ is unacceptable.
- We oppose the concept of a National Research Foundation and its constituent bodies as envisaged in Chapter 14 and elsewhere in the document. We believe this will result in the quelling / crushing of original thought, independent analysis, and honest data collection.
- The requirement of the SMC as envisaged in the DNEP 2019 is contrary to the settled position of law by the honorable Supreme Court and several High Courts on its applicability to minority educational institutions.
- Section 4.6 and its subsections must reflect the plurality and complexity of Indian history, its culture and the evolution of reforms leading up to the Indian renaissance. 6.8.1 must not overreach in its categorization of values but must limit itself to the values enshrined in the preamble of the constitution of India.
- We are troubled by the misuse of the word “Missionary” after the word Christian on pages 34 and 413. The policy attempts to marginalize and countermine Christians as outsiders, as a community with hidden agendas.
- We call for safer school environment for the children. We envisage the creation of a mechanism that actively seeks to protect the innocent child, teachers and management alike.
- In the poorest of poor areas, the minimum passing qualification should be the universal yardstick thereby providing equal access to scholarship especially to those in minorities and in extremely rural settings.
In conclusion we strongly believe that a policy which chooses to shut the very instrument of delivery it seeks to promote is self-inflicting and counterproductive to nation building. A policy must be prospective and not retrospective, must be mindful and not callous, must be enabling and not hobbling. Keeping in view of the aforesaid statement, the DNEP 2019 definitely requires deeper examination and a revisiting on several counts.
Sunny Jacob SJ — Secretary, JEA
JESUIT CONFERENCE OF INDIA IN CSR LIVEWEEK EXHIBITION AND CONFERENCE
Mumbai, 5th July 2019: Lancelot SJ, delivered a wonderful speech as a keynote Speaker while he introduced Jesuit Conference of India to a massive gathering of who’s who of the industry at the recently held Corporate interface event called CSR Liveweek Exhibition and Conference with the launch of CSR Good Book 2019 at WTC Expo Centre, Cuffe Parade, Mumbai on 4 – 5 July 2019′. Lancelot SJ, Principal of St. Xaviers’ College, Ahm edabad brilliantly oriented the audience about what Jesuit Conference of India stands for, its mission vision and focus area of work.
Siji Chacko, Director, Jesuit Conference of India, participated in a panel discussion that centered on the issue of CSR and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and their contribution in Social Impact. The other participants being, Ms. Ruby Thapar, Seasoned CSR and Communication Professional, Dow – Dupont, Ashwini Saxena, Chief Operating Officer, JSW Foundation, Mr John Alex, EVP & Group Head- Social Initiatives, Equitas Small Finance Bank and Ms. Gazala Shaikh, Sr. Group Manager – CSR, WNS Global Services(P)Ltd.
This year’s conference focused on PSE’s, Corporations and their Foundations’ and their work in social sphere after the passage of CSR Bill in 2013 – the impact and beneficiaries of PSU’s like SAIL, Indian Oil, NTPC and corporates work in development like Aditya Birla, Jindals, Maruti, GVK, etc. to name a few) Jesuit Conference of India participated as Key NGO Partner in the two day CSR event that saw 70+ speakers, 600+ participants and 3000+ visitors. On this occasion, the 10th edition of “CSR Good Book”, documenting the social impactful work of PSU’s, Corporation’s and their Foundations’ was released in which Jesuit Conference of India found mention in abandon. Published by Liveweek LLC, CSR Good Book is an ideal media for social efforts and initiatives concerning business ethics, environment, community development, philanthropy, corporate governance, human rights and diversity.
The CSR Live Week is biggest Global Corporate Social Responsibility and Business Sustainability event in Asia and United States and is now in its 10th year.
Jesuit Conference of India, a registered not for profit organization in India, have been doing pioneering work in areas of ecology and environment, supplementary education for the children from most marginalized communities, Skill building for youth, alternate energy in the difficult to reach areas in South Asia and working with the governments to address these situations. Jesuit Conference of India is a Jesuit initiative which is part of the international organization of the Society of Jesus with a presence in most countries across the world.
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