- Calendar Scheduler
- News Letter
THE GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP, THE WORLD IS OUR HOME
The Role of Educators
- Dear Fr. Sunny Jacob, Secretary for Education, JEA!
- Dear Fr. Aloysius Irudayam, educationist & resource person!
- Dear Fr. Cyril, educationist & resource person!
- Dear Mr. Lourdes Baptista, ADO, New Delhi!
- Fr. Lancy from Gujarat, another Resource person!
- Host Zonal & Assistant Secretaries of Central Zone Education Bureau – Fr. Erentius Minj, Fr. Ajit Xess & Fr Florence Kujur!
- Dear Coordinators of Education of various central zone provinces
- All Principals & Delegates of various Jesuit Schools!
Let me at the outset congratulate the organizers for having organized this wonderful and timely workshop spreading over two and half days on Global Citizenship Programme with Human Rights Education & Ecology as its strong components, with an addition of the School Improvement Programme. At the very outset, I would like to argue that one cannot claim to have Improvement of one’s school without implementing the global citizenship programme, which creates a space and mechanism for every student of ours to treat every other person as a member of his/her larger family/oikos. This starting point therefore, helps one understand and accept the other as his/her own and every human person as “God’s own image and likeness” which is the very basis of human rights and ecological justice.
Two years ago, we were busy with Pope Francis’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ on environment. It is good that we are still busy with that monumental document, rather than putting it in the backburner like most of the other documents, when the new ones are written. Laudato Si’ is perhaps one of the best documents on environment. However, Laudato Si’ is not a simplistic document on environment. It is, as Pope Francis told the GC36 during his visit of the Congregation, about the human nature, which is primarily responsible for ecological disaster. Hence, if we want an ecological balance & injustice, we have to first deal with the inner self of the human rather than outer. The same is applicable for human rights as well.
This workshop is a very powerful and practical response to the call and challenge of the pope to protect Mother Earth. I would like to repeat the saying of the Maori Indigenous peoples of New Zealand, i.e., “We have not inherited the earth from our ancestors; we have borrowed it from our children.” Hence, the earth is to be cared for tenderly so that we are able to transmit it to the coming generations as a common heritage.
I would like to appreciate and congratulate Fr Sunny Jacob, all the coordinators of various zones and provinces and all of you my dear brothers, for taking a lead in introducing Global citizenship programme in the assistancy, which is the need of the hour.
During the next two days we will have a focused reflection on Two Aspects of the Global Citizenship Programme this year, namely
[a] Human Rights and Global Goals: “Human dignity is the same for all human beings: when I trample on the dignity of another, I am trampling on my own.” – Pope Francis
[b] Care for our Common Home: “You are called to care for creation not only as responsible citizens, but also as followers of Christ” – Pope Francis
The Course on Human Rights and Global Goals is a Response to the current situation in South Asia. It is in conformity with the JCSA statement. It is a collaborative programme of the Jesuits in school education. Madurai has a well developed programme from standards VI to IX on Human Rights with key aspects of Democracy and Constitutions. We appreciate the Assistancy Development Office – the Resource organisation and Coordinating Agency in the Assistancy – under the able leadership of Lourdes Baptista, to support the programme on ‘Human Rights Awareness and Education in schools’.
It is heartening to learn that two text books have already been introduced by experts as regards Human Rights Programme – Part I for Classes VI+VII, ranging over such themes as human being, human feelings, human qualities, human dignity, social life, democracy, justice, prejudice, discrimination, human rights, and so on.
Human Rights Programme – Part II for Classes VIII+IX includes, such themes as Child Rights, Child Labour, Child Abuse, Child Rights, Women’s Rights, Women and Law, Dalit Rights, Reservation, Laws and Dalits, Tribal Rights, Consumer Rights, Strategies to combat HR Violations, Helpline and Contact addresses, and so on.
As regards the second aspect of the Global Citizenship Programme this year, namely ‘Care For our common home’, it is a fitting response to the call of Laudato Si’ and GC 36. This response invites collaboration between JEA Schools on the one hand and Tarumitra and Gujarat Jesuit Ecology Mission, on the other hand. Tarumitra is the Jesuit Ecological awareness and education programme with UN status, reaching out to 0.4 million school children, developing Bio-Reserves, Eco spirituality, awareness, organic farming, and campaigns. The Gujarat Jesuit Ecology Mission – A new programme -- has a well designed school education programme with 10 sessions. Again, ADO is the resource organisation and coordinating agency for the two.
Ecological themes for Leaf Program, among other things, include Bio-diversity, Organic farming-kitchen garden, Alternative energy, Global warming & Climate Change, Solid Waste Management, Water Harvesting Eco-Art Programs, Eco-Spirituality, Environmental Campaigns, and Green School Audit.
This is the need of the hour and we can become a model for the entire Society in promoting human rights and ecology.
[III] School Improvement Programme
The third component of this workshop is the school improvement programme. The process includes an interface between (i) School Self Review and Evaluation, and (ii) School External Review and Evaluation.
The parameters for evaluation include 7 areas, which are: (1) Leadership and management, (2) Teaching and Learning, (3) The Child, (4) The Curriculum, (5) Community and Partnership, (6) Infrastructure and resources, and (7) Jesuit Legacy.
The tools used for data collection and survey are: Learning walk, observation, interaction, and so on.
The 1st phase evaluation was conducted by a third party and a base line was arrived at.
The 2nd phase is envisaged to have a Mix of Third Party and a Team of Jesuit and ex-teachers as Resource Persons. The idea is also to develop the team of Jesuit Resource persons to use the tools effectively. This will also help develop a support system to compile and analyse the findings.
The Process will be mutually supportive -- At School Level, At Province Level, At Zonal Level, and At JEASA Level with clearly defined roles and responsibilities and monitoring processes.
I am given to understand that at the moment 50 schools of Central Zone are being evaluated for improvement.
The two programmes – global citizenship & school improvement -- are in conformity with the charism of the Society.
I would like to situate the 3 components of this programme in their proper perspective. The context, in which these education programmes are being proposed, is alarming. The situation in the country is exclusivist, promoting homogeneity and disrespect inclusivism and diversity. The very foundation of such an ideology is not equality, secularism and socialism but inequality, religious fundamentalism and capitalism.
There was a time in the past when ‘development’ was defined as ‘economic growth’. Gone are the days when economic growth was the sole indicator of development. Now we talk in terms of ‘human development’ which takes into consideration human rights, social, spiritual, cultural and human aspects of growth. However, what we see as of now, is a total negation of all that.
In view of a fair understanding of the context in which we the educationists of South Asian Jesuit Assistancy are trying to make our engagement meaningful, I am borrowing the ideas from Fr T K John’s article titled “INDIA’S HANDLING OF THE PREAMBLE and THE DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF THE CONSTITUTION: A Review from the Perspectives of the ‘Losers’ in India” in a co-edited book ‘Towards a Politics of Change’ by J M Kujur and M K George (New Delhi: ISI, 2013).
The ‘losers’ are those who find themselves at the lowest rung of the social ladder in the ‘push-culture’ that has been the economic history of India. It is also the history of the human race. For thought-provoking certainly is the contrast between the life-style of ‘those above’ and ‘those below’ in India.
To understand the dynamics that generated the contrast between these two groups of Indian citizens of our times it is relevant that we place a very important document before us: the Constitution of India. It has two normative sections, the Preamble and the Directive Principles of State Policy. These two sections provide, along with the main body that is the Constitution, a magnificent vision for the Indian peoples. To gain some insight into the ironic situation of two contrasting sections an impressionist’s overview of the role of the Constitution in shaping the human community in India is the objective of the following pages. Then we raise some searching questions. Have the commitments and promises made to the Indian peoples by Indian people, through this document, been fulfilled? Are we as a nation responsible and accountable to the commitments we make to our people? It is over sixty years since we began governing ourselves. Has relief and enhancement to the quality of life come to the deprived and marginalized sections of the people of India? In other words is everyone in this land truly ‘free’? Has freedom come to every citizen in India?
The perspective for this review is provided by Gandhi’s phrase ‘the last and the least’ and his talisman for governance in the Indian Union. In his Hind Swaraj M. K. Gandhi had appended some books for reading. John Ruskin’s Unto This Last is one among them. It is inspired by such writers that he had given currency to his well-known talisman and his vision of a new India through antyodaya (of which ‘sabka saath sabka vikas’ is only an aberration).
The Criterion for Listening and for Appropriate Response
The Constitution, with its Preamble and the Directive Principles of State Policy, gives the nation a grand vision. Regularly watching the direction of the new nation and the degree of actualization of the commitment is a responsibility of every citizen
Our concern is: is the country focused on welfare for every citizen? For, according to Anthony Parel, “Gandhi wants Indians to be well fed, well-housed, well clothed, well-governed, well read, and cognizant of the place and function of aesthetic and art in life” (A.Parel, 1997).
The Preamble of the Constitution of India sets the vision and draws a wide and broad horizon. In it the Indian citizen is provided with limitless space for free movement, growth and expansion. It has become a reservoir from which we draw inspiration and norm for pursuing our national commitment. India’s Constitution has been scripted in its light.
A major reason for the high regard and appreciation for the document is that the Indian citizen figures well in it. But existing Indian social structure does contradict the statement. Social reality is different. Existing social structures are hierarchical and discriminatory, primarily due to caste gender discriminatory distortion and consequently due to landless-land lords dichotomy. The esteem and honour given to the Indian citizen in the short document is commendable. The Document embodies values of high standard. One could state without hesitation that it reflects the best elements from the heritage of humanity. The soul-force behind many of the revolutions of our times, violent and non-violent, is contained therein. The successful decolonization that has been a recent global phenomenon has been animated by the principles and values that are found therein. One can say that the contribution of the Biblical portrayal of the human person, “created in the image and likeness of God” (Gen 1:27), and called to be endowed with the “liberty of the children of God” (Rom 8:21) has been immense, almost as the bedrock of the vision it holds. The sources of these values with which the citizen in the document is portrayed are far deep in the revealed truth: that the human person has her/his roots and destiny in the divine. Therefore the nature, the dignity, the rights and freedom, for which sound humanism and the revealed religion battle for, should be kept in view when national projects and governance of the people are designed. This is the silent mandate that goes out to India’s planners law makers, and those entrusted with the duty of implementing the provisions.
Content of the Preamble: National Identity
The solemn resolve contained in the Preamble envisioned the nature, identity and destiny of the new nation about to be born. The objective was to constitute India into a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. The small word ‘India’ should bring to our mind not a mere abstract concept of the country. The accolades poured out lavishly on national day celebrations are not necessarily realistic indicators. But peoples in their many walks of life, especially the struggling sectors of India, should be in our mind. Indians, young and old, rich and poor, literate and illiterate, sick and healthy, all full of life-thrust—how they live, what their resources, what their needs and grievances, what the nature of interaction among citizens and such ought to be among the concerns that need to be investigated and pursued. Since the Father of the nation had recommended that the lives of the least and the last be the criterion for decision making by the planners and their executors, it is these that should be kept before us for assessing the performance the nation.
Preamble’s Assurances to the Indian People
The core of the issue is: the Indian Constitution, inspired and guided by the vision contained in the Preamble, makes a commitment to her citizens that it will ensure that the true dimensions of the human person: nature, dignity, rights, justice, liberty, equality and fraternity, are enjoyed by all. The national resolve, accordingly, was to secure for every citizen of India justice (social, economic, and political), liberty (of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship), equality (of status and of opportunity, and to promote fraternity (of the individual and the unity and integrity of the nation). The new nation was given by the unique document a laudable direction and destiny.
The three wings of the Constitution, the legislative, the executive and the judiciary, along with the media the fourth estate, are there to supervise and facilitate the actualizing of these provisions. The Constitution guarantees to every citizen that he/she has the right to expect from the State freedom, opportunities and space to organize one’s life in pursuit of the goal.
Time to ask: is the Preamble Lived Out? Is the Preamble honoured by validation?
Alarm Bells from the Human Rights Groups.
The strange phenomena known as ‘custodial deaths’, extra-juridical execution, police firing on unarmed protestors, ‘encounter-deaths’, disappearance of civilians ‘held’ by the police for ‘questioning/investigation’, by forces of democratic government is appalling and indigestible. MISA (Maintenance of Internal Security Act), TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act), POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act), UAPA (Unlawful Activities Act), AFSPA (Armed Forces Special Powers Act) are among the laws created and promulgated by successive governments. These are indicative of the shrinking of the collective mind of the Indian State. Worse still, to invoke laws of British times against ‘sedition’ and to impose them on any one having even normal humanitarian contact with individuals declared as ‘terrorists’, ‘Maoists’, or ‘militants’, certainly ambiguous terms, by the democratic State is certainly abhorrent to democracy in its true sense..
Consultation, public debates, deputation, lobbying, placing all facts in the public domain for creating and shaping public opinion, are legitimate exercises adhered to in a democracy. But unilateral resort to executive orders, prohibitory orders, police action, and strong arm steps like ‘operation green hunt’, invoking sedition charges against any one, are remnants of the British strategies for repression of democratic exercises, and these do tend eventually to destroy democratic culture. The India with its constitutional democracy is expected to resist onslaught on democratic process in any form.
It is this struggling Indian nation that has attached its fortunes to the world community through steps like globalization. Its fortunes are now seen dependent on global economic forces that have sway over the national political and cultural processes.
It is clear the pristine vision of India is subject to severe erosion. The concrete rendering of these provisions by the Planning Commission was by a class of people that did not belong to the above groups. So their upward mobility was very slow. Beneficiaries have been largely the upper and middle class people. Benefits that came to the poor are minimal. With the introduction of Neo-liberal economic policy the situation has worsened. This was mostly in favour of the high income group.
India and Secularism
We consider India’s secular commitment. Has India’s opting for a secular identity been authenticated? Will India maintain its secular option? For the first three decades India was successful in maintaining her secular identity, in spite of many threats, especially from internal forces.
What is the nature of the democratic culture and the institutions so laboriously striven for and secured? Dominated-dominant has been for millennia the social culture of the hierarchic society.
Has the commitment to economic and social justice been taking roots? Are their laments by any section of our people over denial of justice?
Do Indian citizens enjoy unhindered liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship, convinced of course that liberty is exercised with responsibility and duty consciousness? Serious doubts have been expressed due to onslaughts by fundamentalists on some modern painting, writers, novelists, and historians.
Has the nation honoured its commitment to equality of status and opportunity?
Finally, does every member of different caste-class sectors and genders experience true fraternity? It is not within the scope of this presentation to scientifically handle these questions that pertain to our national identity and commitments. However the exercise of raising them is important. Some general impressions, not necessarily result of any survey or research, is expressed.
After the massive slaughter genocide and destruction of life and property during the protracted Second World War the representatives of the nations of the world assembled in the city of San Francisco. Like Dronacharya on the bed of arrows after ‘Kurushstra’, they deliberated on how to protect what is still left of civilization and LIFE. Indeed mortal wounds were inflicted on humanity by the six years long mutual warfare by the ‘so-called modern civilization’. The result was a determination not to repeat the bloody decade. The great charter, another one in the line of its illustrious predecessor the Magna Carta, was drawn up. It is known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This landmark consensus statement aims at restoring what was lost, giving and re-affirming the esteem sacredness and decency human Life deserves. For ‘life’ on earth, the only planet on which it is struggling to survive faced with the most destructive anti-life weapons and ecological ravages is more precious in value than gold or other precious treasures in the world. And so the global community’s consensus statement, known the world over as Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives assurance to all humanity as follows:
‘All human beings are born free and equal in rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood” (Article 1)
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (Article 2).
“Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of persons” (Article 3).
Will India Honour Its Assurance to its Citizens?
First of all the Preamble contains values and ideals that flow from the very essence of the human person. The preamble seems to contain a vision that has been distilled from the best in religions, chiefly from the Bible. The human person that figures in the brief document enjoys the status and portrait of a highly esteemed human person. At a time when human values are being throttled by sterile commercial values that reduce the human person to an object and even an instrument of consumerism, a revisit to these basics are considered refreshing. A culture that can stand by these ideals and values can be credited with the wisdom and insight that would guarantee a healthy human community.
Secondly there is a strong affirmation of the nature and dignity as well as rights of the human person, irrespective of caste colour creed and race in the Preamble. But pursuit of wealth at the expense of the human person can become a threat to our common heritages. This is a real threat to the integrity of the human person. The promises and offers in the Preamble augur well for the health of the community.
Thirdly a nation that enters into the task of nation building based on these foundations can be trusted and relied upon. For history testifies to the sad state of affairs when rulers that trampled underfoot these ideals and values yet spearheaded governance have ended their regimes in disaster.
In the preface of Rethinking Democracy (2005) by Prof. Rajni Kothari the author writes as follows:
“However, in recent times I have found myself getting increasingly concerned with the failure of democracy – not just as a political system, but of the democratic idea itself – in fulfilling the basic task of reaching out to people, especially those residing in the lower reaches of the social order. I began to feel increasingly uneasy with the recent democratic developments.”
Reflections on Ecology
Various religious traditions have spoken about ecology.
Hinduism: Hinduism teaches us that life is sacred. All living beings are sacred because they are parts of God, and should be treated with respect and compassion. This is because the soul can be reincarnated into any form of life. Even trees, rivers and mountains are believed to have souls, and should be honoured and cared for. Traditional Hindu practices of caring for nature are being forgotten and as a result human survival is becoming more difficult.
Islam: In Islam the Qur'an' and the Hadith are rich in proverbs and precepts that speak of the Almighty's design for creation and humanity's responsibility for preserving it. For many Muslims, citing these is enough to prove that Islam has always embraced a complete environmental ethic. Others are more critical. They readily acknowledge that the guidelines are all there in Islamic doctrine. Tawhid (unity), khilafa (trusteeship), and akhirah (accountability, or literally, the hereafter), three central concepts of Islam, are also the pillars of Islam's environmental ethic. But they add that Muslims have strayed from this nexus of values and need to return to it.
Sikhism: The Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, declares that the purpose of human beings is to achieve a blissful state and to be in harmony with the earth and all creation. It seems, however, that humans have drifted away from that ideal. For, the earth is today saturated with problems. It is agonizing over the fate of its inhabitants and their future! It is in peril as never before. Its lakes and rivers are being choked, killing its marine life. Its forests are being denuded. A smoky haze envelops the cities of the world. Human beings are exploiting human beings. There is an ecological crisis. This crisis cries out for an immediate and urgent solution. The crisis requires going back to the basic question of the purpose of human beings in this universe and an understanding of ourselves and God’s creation.
Jainism: Jainism has been staunch protector of nature since inception of the Jain faith. The religion of nature, Jainism paves the way to understanding nature's utility and the essential nature of plants, worms, animals, and all sorts of creatures that have their own importance for maintaining ecological balance. Jainism therefore says that the function of souls is to help one another (Parasparopagraho Jivanam-Tattvarthasutra, 5.21). Jain ecology is based on spirituality and equality. Each life form, plant, or animal, has an inherent worth and each must be respected. Within Jainism, the term for ecology might be Sarvodayavada, or the concern for lifting up all life forms, as articulated by Samantabhadra (third c. A. D.), the prominent Jain philosopher.
Buddhism: The Dharma, as Buddhist’s refer to the Buddhist teachings, states that all things are interconnected. There is nothing in existence which exists as a separate, fixed, isolated entity. Things only exist in relationship and connection with other things. In fact so much so that the boundaries between things are only useful conventions, provisionally true, but by no means absolute. This view is also found at the heart of the ecological perspective, which recognises that everything in this world is woven into a subtle and intricate web of relationships.
Christianity: Major Christian denominations endorse the Biblical calling of our stewardship of God's Creation and our responsibility for its care.
Adivasi religions: Indigenous peoples or Adivasis share a symbiotic relationship with nature, which implies their survival only in the survival of nature. That is one of the reasons why protection of nature is entrenched in their socio-cultural mechanism.
If all religions promote ecological balance – this world as our Home – what has happened to that humanity, which is destroying its creation indiscreetly? This destruction we see not only in relationships but also in our economic behaviour, which is seen in an adverse impact of mining.
Towards Sustainable, Integral, Holistic Development: The Case of Mining SEZs in India
We should re-evaluate the current paradigm of development pursued by the State in India under the policy regime of liberalisation-privatisation-globalisation (LPG) that began in full-swing with the New Economic Policy in 1991, with particular reference to the mining SEZs in East and Central India and developing a new paradigm of development based on popular and folk epistemologies among tribal peoples, women and the chronically poor and advocate measures and launch conscientisation campaigns on how best to secure it.
The present paradigm of development under LPG involves the depletion of non-renewable natural resources, especially through mining; the creation of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in favour of these extractive industries which is a regime of accumulation that favours the profiteers over people at large; undermining the livelihoods and threatening the very existence of millions of people subsisting on natural resources of jal, jangal and jameen (water, forest and land); displacement of large segments of the population without providing them adequate means of alternative livelihoods; undermining subaltern identities, cultures and ways of living; and causing serious environmental and ecological hazards. The issue at large is of genocidal proportions. The sheer number of corporate houses that are rushing in secure mining leases is indicative of the fact that they are in a great hurry to secure these fast-depleting non-renewables. The prospect of the impending depletion of non-renewables throws up a serious ethical question, ‘Is it fair for the present generation to exhaust these non-renewables which is the common heritage of humanity?’
As against the dominant paradigm of development that is being pursued, common people in the rural areas themselves have, in their popular wisdom and knowledge arising from ‘lived experience’, alternatives to the elitist, urban-biased pattern of development that is being pursued. Resistance of people to the latter pattern of development also begets elements of alternative knowledge on development. These scattered elements of wisdom and knowledge need to be culled and studied in-depth to unearth an alternative paradigm of development.
The alternative paradigm of development that we might arrive at may, broadly, be designated as ‘Sustainable, Integral, Holistic Development’. ‘Sustainability’ refers to the stability, steadiness and durability of the process over time. ‘Integral development’ means that the process should be all-round covering the various facets of the human personality – physical (with focus on food security), material, intellectual, ethical, etc. ‘Holistic development’ would refer to wholesome nature of development addressing all basic needs of the human person such as health, education, drinking water, transport and communication requirements, etc.
Hence, my dear brothers! To assert that “another world is still possible” there is a task before us to do something concrete. We cannot change the world overnight, but we can give a serious try to human rights and ecological education in our schools and also work concretely toward school improvement in order to make this world a little better place to live in.