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

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.

How lead petitioner was rendered homeless when GM mustard matter came up in SC

By Rosamma Thomas*  On January 5, 2023, the Supreme Court stayed a December 20, 2022 direction of the Uttarakhand High Court to the Indian Railways and the district administration of Haldwani to use paramilitary forces to evict thousands of poor families occupying land that belonged to the railways.  Justice AS Oka remarked that it was not right to order the bringing in of paramilitary forces. The SC held that even those who had no rights, but were living there for years, needed to be rehabilitated. On December 21, 2022, just as she was getting ready to celebrate Christmas, researcher Aruna Rodrigues was abruptly evicted from her home in Mhow Cantonment, Madhya Pradesh – no eviction notice was served, and nearly 30 Indian Army soldiers bearing arms were part of the eviction process. What is noteworthy in this case is that the records establishing possession of the house date back to 1892 – the title deed with the name of Dr VP Cardoza, Rodrigues’ great grandfather, is dated November 14

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Tax buoyancy claims when less than 4% Indian dollar millionaires pay income tax

By Prasanna Mohanty  In FY18, the last year for which disaggregated income tax data is available, only 29,002 ITRs declared income above Rs 5 crore, while Credit Suisse said India had 7.25 lakh dollar millionaires (the wealth equivalent of Rs 8 crore and above) that year. Often enough, the Centre claims that demonetization in 2016 raised tax collections, improved tax efficiency, and expanded the tax base. Now RBI Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) member Ashima Goyal has also joined their ranks, attributing the “claims” of rising tax collections in the current fiscal year to “tax buoyancy” brought by the demonetisation . Do such claims have any basis in official records? The answer is unequivocal. The budget documents show the tax-to-GDP ratio (direct plus indirect tax) increased from 10.6% in FY16 (pre-demonetization) to 11.2% in FY17, remained there in FY18 (demonetization and GST fiscals), and then fell to 9.9% in FY20. In FY22, it improved to 10.8% and is estimated to drop to 10.7% in

Cyrus Mistry, PM Modi’s brother: What do these accidents have in common? Merc!

By Rosamma Thomas*  In September 2022, in an accident at Palghar near Mumbai, Cyrus Mistry, former chairman of the Tata Group, died in a road accident . On December 28, 2022, a road accident in Mysore left one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s brothers injured. What is common in these accidents? The car that crashed into the divider on the road, in both these cases, was manufactured by “prestigious” German manufacturer Mercedes Benz. One former dealer of Mercedes Benz cars in India has been raising issues of the threat to the lives of those riding these cars for many years now. Cama Motors, among the oldest dealers of foreign cars, having started business in pre-independence India, noted over 10 years ago that Mercedes Benz was indulging in corrupt practices . The cars are currently priced between Rs 41 lakh and Rs 2.92 crore in India; few people realize that the pride of owning a Merc comes at considerable risk to life. Cama Motors carefully documented several of the flaws on a websi

Gandhian unease at Mahadev Desai book launch: Sabarmati Ashram may lose free space

By Rajiv Shah  A simmering apprehension has gripped the Gandhians who continue to be trustees of the Sabarmati Ashram: the “limited freedom” to express one’s views under the Modi dispensation still available at the place which Mahatma Gandhi made his home from 1917 to 1930 may soon be taken away. Also known as Harijan Ashram, a meeting held for introducing yet-to-be-released book, “Mahadev Desai: Mahatma Gandhi's Frontline Reporter”, saw speaker and after speaker point towards “narrowing space” in Gujarat for Gandhians (as also others) to express themselves. Penned by veteran journalist Nachiketa Desai, grandson of Mahadev Desai, while the book was planned to be released on January 1 and the meeting saw several prominent personalities, including actor-director Nandita Das, her scholar-mother Varsha Das, British House of Lords member Bhikhu Parekh, among others, speak glowingly about the effort put in for bringing out the book, exchanges between speakers suggested it should be rele

Civil rights leaders allege corporate loot of resources, suppression of democratic rights

By Our Representative  Civil rights activists have alleged, quoting top intelligence officers as also multiple international forensic reports, that recent developments with regard to the Bhima Koregaon and the Citizenship Amendment Act-National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) cases suggest, there was "no connection between the Elgaar Parishad event and the Bhima Koregaon violence." Activists of the Campaign Against State Repression (CASR) told a media event at the HKS Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi, that, despite this, several political prisoners continue to be behind bars on being accused under the anti-terror the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Addressed by family members of the political prisoners, academics, as well as social activists, it was highlighted how cases were sought to be fabricated against progressive individuals, democratic activists and intellectuals, who spoke out against "corporate loot of Indian resources, suppression of basic democratic

Kerala natural rubber producers 'squeezed', attend to their plight: Govt of India told

By Rosamma Thomas   Babu Joseph, general secretary of the National Federation of Rubber Producers Societies (NFRPS) at a recent discussion at Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, explained that it is high time the Union government paid greater heed to the troubles plaguing the rubber production sector in India – rubber is a strategic product, important for the military establishment and for industry, since natural rubber is still used in the manufacture of tyres for large vehicles and aeroplanes. Synthetic rubber is now quite widespread, but styrene, which is used in making synthetic rubber and plastics, and also butadiene, another major constituent of synthetic rubber, are both hazardous. Prolonged exposure to these even in recycled rubber can cause neurological damage. Kerala produces the bulk of India’s natural rubber. In 2019-20, Kerala’s share in the national production of rubber was over 74%. Over 20% of the gross cropped area in the state is under rubber cultivation, with total

How local NGO is using art, songs to teach children revive Sundarbans mangroves

By Sara Ahmed*  Located in the low-lying islands in the Bay of Bengal, the Sundarbans straddle the border between India and Bangladesh and cover more than 1 million hectares, making them the world’s largest single contiguous mangrove swamp . A Ramsar site added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1987, they are home to a wide range of critically endangered fauna, including the Bengal tiger, the Ganges dolphin , river terrapin, the estuarine crocodile and the Indian python, along with approximately 428 species of birds , 120 fish, 42 mammal, 35 reptile and 8 amphibian species. Having adapted to the saline estuarine conditions, more than 60 plant species can be found there. Historically, cyclones have posed a greater threat in the Bay of Bengal than they do in the Arabian sea, to India’s west. Between 1891 and 2018, there were 520 cyclones in the Bay of Bengal , compared to 126 in the Arabian Sea. On top of sucking up large amounts of greenhouse emissions , mangroves also act as the f