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

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.