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Report on 9th National Congress of JAAI
Hosted by St. Joseph’s College (Autonomous) and St. Joseph’s College Higher Secondary School, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu from 17-19 January 2020
The 9th National Congress of the Federation of Jesuit Alumni Associations of India (JAAI) commenced on the evening of 17th January 2020. Around 650 Jesuit Alumni delegates and more than 100 Reverend Jesuit Priests from different part of the globe assembled near the Aruppe Library, St. Joseph’s College, Tiruchirappalli to give a flying start to the 9th National Congress of JAAI. A ceremonial procession with college band in attendance started from Arrupe Library and reached the Jubilee Hall – where the plenary session was to takeoff. The National Congress was formally inaugurated by the Chief Guest – The Very Reverend Fr. George Pattery SJ - the Provincial of South Asia who blessed the occasion with a speech that indicated purpose and intent. In his address to the august gathering, he emphasized on the “Athma Santhushti” (Inner peace of Soul) by helping all the poor, irrespective of their nationality and other identities, with a profound sensibility of a global citizenship. The Guest of Honour – Mr. Alain Deneef, President, World Union of Jesuit Alumni/ae (WUJA) who came all the way from Belgium to attend his fourth National Congress of JAAI in succession. He heartily congratulated organizers of the congress for the successful organization of the National Congress with a huge number of Jesuit alumni delegates participating in it. He exhorted all to be faithful to the vision and the mission of the Jesuits and those of WUJA & JAAI. Prof. John Varghese, Principal, St. Stephen’s College, Delhi delivered the keynote address and highlighted the deft and efficacious handling of technology, which he termed as a double-edged sword, while using it for “Networking for a Harmonious world” – the theme for the National Congress.
On this grand occasion, Reverend Fr. Danis Ponniah SJ, Provincial, Madurai Jesuit Province offered felicitations and elucidated the four Clarion calls of the Society of Jesus in the post general Congregation (GC 36) scenario as call to collaborate, call to network, call for discernment in common and call to reconciliation. Speaking on the occasion, Reverend Fr. Jebamalai Raja, SJ, Provincial, Jesuit Chennai Province, nudged all the alumni to plunge into immediate planning and action to check the rampant deterioration of human values in all walks of life in order to save the poor from all sorts of oppression. Reverend Fr. Leonard Fernando, S.J., Rector of St. Joseph’s Institutions, Mr. Naresh Gupta, Secretary, WUJA and Dr. Devendra Singh, President, JAAI welcomed all the delegates and guests. Reverend Fr. Leonardo Fernando SJ encouraged one and all to establish a network to safeguard the cardinal values of our Indian Constitution and to implement the Universal Apostolic preferences of showing the way to God, walking with youth, helping the poor and preserving our common home, our world. Reverend Fr. Swebert D’ Silva SJ, Province Coordinator for Alumni/ae, Karnataka Jesuit Province in his address emphasized the role of 4 Cs namely Competency, Compassion, Commitment and Conscience to start a vibrant global networking for Harmony in the world. The Director of St. Joseph’s Alumni Association, Reverend Fr. U. Godwin Rufus SJ reiterated His Holiness Pope Francis’s observation on sharing our resources, love, peace and joy in our families and in the world. Rev. Fr. Anbarasu Mariaraj SJ thanked all the dignitaries, guests, delegates, staffs and associates for their purposeful contributions and participation. He urged one and all to remove one’s ego of “I” consciousness to Network for a Harmonious world. The plenary session was followed by stupendous performance of an extravaganza of various Indian classical and folk dances, communicating spiritual, social- awareness, patriotic, human and Gospel values by Kalai Kaviri dance troupes.
On day-2, i.e. 18th January 2020, the Session-1 was started with the Keynote Address by Hon’ble Justice K. Chandru (Retd.), High Court of Madras on “Judiciary and Networking”. He gave a clarion call to safeguard to protect and uphold the Indian Constitution to save the Indian Citizens from all sorts of atrocities. He traced the degeneration of judiciary values down the ages with apt evidences. In the Session-2, the moderator Fr. Sunny Jacob, SJ, the Secretary. JEASA and National Advisor, JAAI expressed that the Jesuit vision and mission do not support any narrowness or bigotry. It encourages everyone to serve for the greater glory of God. The first resource person for the session Reverend Fr. John Felix Raj, SJ, the Vice-Chancellor, St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata shared his views on Jesuit Education and Networking. He highlighted the fact that the Jesuit Educational network is the biggest in the
world striving to impart quality education to poor people at affordable cost. In India there are 62 Jesuit Higher Educational Institutions, 2 Jesuit Universities, 18 Business Schools, 400 High Schools educating 4 lakh students with 12,300 teachers employed in these institutions. He concluded with a quote from the 2nd Conference on Jesuit Networks held in Georgetown University, USA – “Networks offer greater freedom to experiment and are places of innovation and creativity that allow us to balance our tradition with a necessary entrepreneurial and adaptive spirit.”
The next resource person for the session, Mr. R. Vijaya Sankar, the Editor, The Front Line shared his experiences on Media and Networking. He traced the utility of the press and media in upholding the social Justice and equality with freedom of expression. He also pointed out how the hyper commercialization of media has led to the suppression of the publicity of the real social issues. He stresses upon the need to adhere to the motto of St. Joseph’s College i.e. pro bono et vero i.e. for “the Good & the True” that would empower media to network for a Harmonious World. Dr. Jebamalai Vinanchiarachi, Principal Secretary (Retd.), UNIDO, Vienna shared his experiences of empowering the poor of war from Sudan with the help of Community Development projects by UNIDO while delivering his address on Global Networking for Social Harmony. Dr. S. Irudaya Rajan, Professor, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum shared his ideas on India’s Role in International Migration. He informed that there is no clear cut data about the migrating NRIs. He expressed that the migrants may enjoy money power status but they are helpless in bringing harmony and peace to their own families in India. The final resource person for the session was Ms. Vaishali Janarthanan, Social Activist, Vidhayak Bharti, Mumbai who spoke on Networking in Gender Sensitization and Child Protection. She sharply hit at the prevalent patriarchal tendency in India and urged for greater participation of women. She also highlighted the need for networking to spread awareness and to educate children about safeguarding themselves from sexual abuse. All the resource persons responded to many queries raised by the audience and clarified their doubts & queries and welcomed their suggestions.
Later, all the delegates were divided into two groups. Both the groups were given topics on various facets of the congress theme and were requested to deliberate over the topics. Later, a representative from each group presented a brief report of the group-discussion and answered queries of the audience. In the next session, the different zones of JAAI viz North, Central, South & West presented reports on activities of their respective provinces & alumni associations. The Province Coordinator for Alumni/ae (PCA) of all the Jesuit Province were honoured with a memento for their untiring support in all the activities of JAAI. The first edition of JAAI awards to alumni associations were the highlight of the day. The Chairman of the Award Committee, Mr. Bhaumik Thakkar, Vice-President, JAAI announced the names of winners of JAAI Awards for 2017-2020 in various categories such as Social Champion Award, Landmark Legacy Award, Glory to alma mater award, Evolving Education Award, Alumni/ae for Institute Award, Success in synergy Award, Supporting Spirit Award and Highest Attendance in Congress Award. DOX, Ranchi and SXCCAA, Kolkata swept away most of the awards in its first edition. CA. S. Chenthil kumar, Secretary, JAAI appreciated the huge number of delegates mounting up to 650 delegates from all over India and abroad signaling a vibrant networking for a Harmonious World. Reverend Fr. Paul Benedict, Asst. coordinator, JAAT thanked all the delegates who have assembled from all part of the world. After a wonderful variety entertainment programme, one of the most illustrious alumni of St. Xavier’s College, Palayamkottai and guest of honour for the evening Hon’ble Member of Parliament Mr. S. Thirunavukkarasar was welcomed by Dr. S. Papu Benjamin Elango, Conference Secretary. Hon’ble Mr. S. Thirunavukkarasar made a fervent appeal to leading software companies to consider his plea to setup a Hub in Tiruchirappalli to employ at least 5000 technocrats in this central part of Tamil Nadu which has all the infrastructures, facilities and connectivity to became the second capital of Tamil Nadu at this juncture when Andhra Pradesh is planning to have three capitals for better access and speedy governance. He also requested the leading airline companies to connect Tiruchirappalli with Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Delhi as part of the networking endeavours of this conference.
On day-3, i.e. 19th January 2020, the meeting of accredited delegates was held early morning which approved the accounts of JAAI for last three financial years, ratified the activities of JAAI in the term 2017-20, passed resolutions for amendment in the constitution of JAAI and approved nominations for JAAI Governing Council 2020-23. Later, the new Governing Council of JAAI for the term 2020-23 in its first meeting elected office bearers for the term 2020-23 unanimously and decided to hold next meeting of JAAI GC at Darjeeling tentatively in the first week of May 2020. CA. S. Chenthil Kumar was elected as President, Mr. Neel Mani Rangesh was elected as Secretary and Mr. Ravin Roy was elected as Treasurer of JAAI Governing Council. It was also decided that the next Congress of JAAI will be held at Patna, Bihar in 2023. In the first session of the concluding day, Fr. Jerry Rosario SJ, Founder, Dhanam & Manitham delivered a spectacular address on Organ Donation and Networking which spellbound the audience. He informed that Government and all the religious Institutions have permitted blood donation and organ donation. He further intimated that 1.3 billion mothers in India need blood at the time of their delivery. If 2% of Indians are willing to donate blood, India’s blood need will be fulfilled. He explained various types of donation such as blood donation, eye donation, skin donation, bone transplantation, stem cell donation, hair donation, menstrual blood donation, breast milk donation and various organs donation.
Later, in the next session, all the old office bearers & GC members of the JAAI for the term 2017-20 were gratefully honoured and the new office bearers of JAAI for the next three years were installed ceremoniously. The outgoing President of JAAI, Dr. Devendra Singh presented the new JAAI GC members to the Congress. The new President of JAAI CA S. Chenthil Kumar in his acceptance speech thanked everyone for their cooperation and continued support for the growth of JAAI. The new Secretary of JAAI Mr. Neel Mani Rangesh expressed his gratitude and invited all to the next JAAI Congress at Patna in 2023. The JEASA Secretary and National Advisor to JAAI Fr. Sunny Jacob SJ thanked all the old GC members and welcomed the new GC members. He expressed his full confidence in the new team and assured the house that the new team will bring more glory to the organization. In the next session, Mr. Francisco Guarner, Chairman, WUJA World Congress 2021 made an impassioned appeal to all Jesuit Alumni to join in the World Congress at Barcelona, Spain in July, 2021 with a beautiful audio-visual presentation.
Reverend Fr. Jeyaraj Ilankeswaran welcomed and introduced the Guest of Honour for the valedictory session, CA.
V. Ramakrishnan, Chief Financial Officer, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Dr. V. Thiruppugazh IAS, Additional Secretary & Advisor, National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. CA. V. Ramakrishnan shared his views on the opportunities in the networked world. He pointed out that the speedy disruptions in all fields of work are happening by the day to day revolutions triggered off by the innovations in the digital world. He informed that now 10 billion devices are digitally interconnected which is good for constructive networking and cyber security is at a potential threat leading to a loss of 2 trillion dollars in 2019. He urged people to be aware of the big challenges so as to protect the gullible people against phishing scams. He suggested that by protecting the data privacy of a person we could network for a Harmonious World. He recommended three Cs namely Creativity, Critical Thinking and Collaborating for a globally sustainable networking. Dr. V. Thiruppugazh in his address traced out the decrease of death toll in natural calamities in the past ten years by Disaster Management relief projects. He called for an attitudinal change towards natural disasters which are mostly human made. He suggested four priorities to tackle the disasters are a) understanding risk, b) improving risk governance, c) improving early warning, and d) investing in risk reduction. The concluding address was given by Dr. M. Arumairaj, the President of the St. Joseph’s College Alumni Association who thanked one and all for their contributions and participations for the successful 9th National Congress of JAAI.