Skip to main content

It's our turn to lead! Reflections by a Jesuit on the Earth Day, April 22

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*It is Earth Day once again, and on this 45th anniversary when the focus of every citizen is on what are we doing to Mother Earth, the theme that is suggested is “it’s our turn to lead”. The publicity material speaks about “the most exciting year in environmental history. The year in which economic growth and sustainability join hands. The year in which world leaders finally pass a binding climate change treaty. The year in which citizens and organisations divest from fossil fuels and put their money into renewable energy solutions.
These are tough issues but we know what’s at stake is the future of our planet and the survival of life on earth. On Earth Day we need you to take a stand so that together, we can show the world a new direction. It’s our turn to lead. So our world leaders can follow by example.”
So it’s our turn to lead! India is a classic example of how sustainable development is thrown to the winds: the ‘corporatisation’ of the country; the anti-small farmer land acquisition ordinance; a ‘development’ model which caters to the rich and the powerful; the desperation to further nuclearize the country; the total insensitivity to the environment and to ecological concerns - are all powerful indicators to show that it is the ordinary citizen who needs to come out on the streets and to lead the country on issues that may have serious repercussions for future generations.
The lead article in today’s ‘Times of India’ (ed. Ahmedabad page 1) speaks about how the Gujarat Government is pressuring the Central Government to lift the moratorium on some of the country’s critically polluted industrial clusters – Ankleshwar, Vatva (in Ahmedabad) and Vapi - which was a decision of the previous UPA Government in 2010; besides, the National Green Tribunal on the basis of a petition filed by Trupti Shah and others has sent a notice to the Government of Gujarat regarding the Statue of Unity Project on the Narmada River which is bound to create serious ecological problems for the whole State.
Significantly, April 22 is also the day on which the Jesuits celebrate the feast of Mary, the Mother of the Society of Jesus. It was on this day in 1541, exactly seven months after the approval of the Society of Jesus and two weeks after Ignatius of Loyola was elected its first Superior General that he celebrated Mass with his other companions at the altar of Our Lady in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-Walls in Rome, during which they also made their solemn vows.
The care of the earth has been a consistent concern in the way of proceeding of the Jesuits since the last several years. In 1999, this concern was highlighted in a document ‘We live in a Broken World’ and this was furthered with an even greater commitment in 2011 with a path-breaking document ‘Healing a Broken World’.
The General Congregation 35 of the Jesuits emphasises that “Our response to environmental and ecological concerns is therefore a mission: our apostolic response. “As servants of Christ’s mission we are invited to assist him as he sets right our relationships with God, with other human beings, and with creation.” (D3#18)
It is more than just a coincidence that ‘Earth Day’ and the feast of Mary, the Mother of the Society of Jesus’ are observed today: April 22nd. It is a powerful reminder that “the care of the environment...touches the core of our faith in and love for God.” (GC35. D3 #32); while any activity, however cosmetic, is certainly welcome.... we are indeed called to do much more! It’s our turn to lead!
---
* Director Prashant, Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace, Ahmedabad

Comments

TRENDING

Missed call drive for VVPAT verification follows online plea to "pressure" poll panel

By Our Representative
Several political activists have begun a new campaign, asking concerned citizens to give a missed call on 9667655855 to “support the demand that 2019 Loksabha elections must be declared only after verification of 50% electronic voting machines (EVMs) with Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) receipts.” The effort, supported by civil society networks across India, is meant to "further pressure" India's election machinery to ensure that the poll outcome becomes more transparent.

Did Modi own, buy digital camera costing Rs 7 lakh in 1987-88, also used email?

Counterview Desk
In an interview to the news channel News Nation, aired on Saturday last, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declaring that he had approved the air strike despite bad weather because he felt the clouds would hide Indian planes from Pakistani radar is known to have become a laughing stock across India.

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

When a neo-nationalist "invaded" hijab clad ladies, Bengali looking scholar in Delhi metro

By Aditi Kundu*
Travelling in Delhi metro on a daily basis to commute from Mayur Vihar to Dwarka, I see diverse people everyday. One can hear them talk about different aspects of life, from kitchen pilitics to national politics. On the morning of May 13, I witnessed a strange incident; disturbing and amusing at the same time.

Terror attacks: Difference in public reactions in India, those in Colombo, Christchurch

By Battini Rao*
Recently, on April 20 during Easter Sunday, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in churches and hotels in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Local Islamic organisations Thawheed Jamath (NJT) and Jamathei Milathu Ibrahim (JMI) are held responsible for the attack. Islamic State has also claimed responsibility.

Women lost 88 lakh jobs in 2018: Why Modi "failed" to address their disempowerment?

Counterview Desk
Five human rights leaders Anjali Bhardwaj, Shabnam Hashmi, Purnima Gupta, Dipta Bhog, and Amrita Johri of the Women March for Change have posed 56 questions (alluding to Modi’s claim of 56 inches chest) to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP against the backdrop of his interview with a Bollywood star, which was allegedly masqueraded as a “non-political” conversation.

PepsiCo warned: Withdraw cases against Gujarat farmers or face dire consequences

By Our Representative
About 200 farmers’ leaders and activists, in a letter to Dr KV Prabhu, chairperson, Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA), and Dr R C Agrawal, registrar general, PPVFRA, Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Government of India, have demanded that PepsiCo immediately withdraw all the legal suits it has slapped on many potato farmers in different districts of Gujarat.

During Emergency, the ruler was extolled but Opposition wasn't punched around: Scribe

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released book, “India: The Wrong Transition”, by a top Delhi-based scribe Anand K Sahay, has quoted “journalistic circles” to say that the Indian mainstream media – with certain “honourable exceptions” – has virtually abandoned the “practice of journalism”, and  this happened following a “sting operation” that showed that “the crème de la crème of Indian journalism were only too willing, for a suitable price, to let poisonous Hindutva propaganda prevail in their news columns.”

Ex-IAS, IPS, IFS officers tell Modi: Pragya Thakur doesn't represent India's rich heritage

Counterview Desk
In an open statement, a group of former civil servants have said that normally they would have dismissed the candidature of Pragya Thakur, who is BJP’s choice for the Bhopal Lok Sabha constituency, as an act of political expediency. However, they were forced to react to her candidature after none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed has as a “symbol of our civilisational heritage.”

Disproportionately high death sentences against Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims: UN told

Counterview Desk
In their joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee to meet for the listing of adoption of list of issues at its 126th session, July 1-26, 2019, top Dalit rights organizations have taken strong exception to, among other things, "disproportional application of death sentencing by the judiciary of minorities, such as Muslims, Dalits and Adivasis".