Gujarat went to the polls to elect its parliamentarians today.  On any count, these general elections will rate as one of the most significant elections in post-Independent India.  At the end of the day, the two obvious aspects which stand out are : the apathy of the voters (with just over 40% exercising their franchise in the State) and the fact that issues related to governance were hardly focused upon either by ruling NDA-alliance or by the opposition parties.  In a way, the voter had little to choose from.   So the poor turn-out is in fact a vote of no-confidence on all politicians and on a system which has literally prostituted itself to corruption, criminalization and communalism.

 

On May 13th, when the final results are actually out, will we actually know whether the democratic and secular traditions of the country would have been delivered a death-blow or whether the resilience and maturity of the Indian voter would have put India firmly on the road to greater freedom, justice, peace and equity. 

 

A silver lining, however, for the poor and the marginalized of Gujarat (and of the country) has been the landmark  judgment by the Supreme Court on the now “famous” Best Bakery Case.  “ The modern day  ‘Neros’  were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent women and children were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected.  Law and justice become flies in the hands of these ‘wanton boys’.  When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice.  Public order as well as public interest become martyrs and monuments……”, the Supreme Court stated, as it lambasted the Gujarat Government and other authorities for its failure to protect the victims.

 

Indeed, this judgment will go a long way in restoring hopefully, faith in a system which has been so systematically eroded  in the last couple of years by fascist elements who attempt to control our lives. 

 

In this issue of PRAJAL, we carry two lead editorials from the National newspapers, to provide our friends an insight into the depth of this judgment.  For those of you who would like the full text of the judgment, we would be happy to send the same to you electronically on request.

 

Finally, we salute the Supreme Court, the National Human Rights Commission, the Citizens’ for Justice and Peace and all those who are doing their best, that the perpetrators of the Gujarat carnage are brought to book. 

 

We skipped an issue of  PRAJAL in January 2004 because of our involvement with the WORLD SOCIAL FORUM ;  so this issue is coming to you after a break of six months.  We attempt, once again,  to present  to you some of our activities and involvements during this period. 

 

We continue to place on record our gratitude to the many who support us and accompany us in our quest for a society  based on Justice, Peace and Human Rights for all.

 

April 20th 2004                                                                                                                           Fr. Cedric Prakash s.j.

Horizontal Scroll: Welcome  !

Fr. Keith Abranches  s.j.  as Provincial of the Gujarat Jesuits and as President of PRASHANT / PROVINCE OFFICE OF INTEGRAL SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT (POISD).

Thank You !

Fr. Jerry Sequeira s.j.  for all the support and encouragement since the inception of the Centre.  All the best in your future endeavors.

            						   -   The Prashant Parivar

                                                                                                                                                  Director

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

q       Editorials on the Best Bakery Judgment  : (we reproduce here below, editorials which appeared on Wednesday April 14th, 2004, from two of India’s leading English dailies.)

 

JUSTICE AT ITS BEST

 

The Supreme Court order holds out hope that no future riot will go unpunished !

 

The import of the historic Supreme Court directive on the Best Bakery case will be felt long after this particular case runs its course.    By ordering a reinvestigation into the Best Bakery case, and a retrial outside the state of Gujarat, the apex court has provided a new model for the delivery of justice in a situation where the criminal justice system has failed at the local level.  This holds up hope that no killer – rioter, no perpetrator of mass hate crimes, will escape unpunished in the future.

 

The history of riots in this country has been a history of the miscarriage of justice.  Indeed, the counsel for the Gujarat government had once even argued before the Supreme Court that given the “short comings” in India’s  criminal justice system, which has resulted in rioters being let off the hook for over 40 years, the miscarriage of justice in the Best Bakery case should really not occasion surprise.  His observation had, of course, provoked a sharp reply from Chief Justice V N Khare at that point, who asked him pointedly whether that meant that the rioters in Gujarat should also be let off.  Through its latest order the apex court has signaled its determination to ensure that this will not happen, not now and not in the future.  It was based on the court’s perception that justice for the victims of the Gujarat riots cannot be ensured in Gujarat, in a state where-in its memorable words-“the modern day Neros were looking elsewhere when innocent children and helpless women were burning and were probably deliberating  how the perpetrators of the crime could be protected”.  There was enough evidence before it to indicate that at every stage-from the registration of the cases, to the gathering of evidence, to the prosecution of the accused, to the delivering of justice in the courts- there were serious and unconscionable failures.  Its indictment was thorough and damning.  If the prosecution acted more like the defense counsel,  the trial court was “indifferent to sacrilege being committed to justice” and the high court “miserably failed to maintain required judicial balance and sobriety”.    It held the fanatics who had perpetrated the violence in the name of religion as “worse that terrorists”.

 

There is an important principle that was being reiterated by the honorable judges here.  That the judicial process cannot be compromised, or allowed to become a casualty to political agendas, or executive fiat.  That justice, ultimately, is not an abstract value but a vital process that informs public institutions.  Now that the highest court in the land has spoken, it is for the state governments of Gujarat and Maharashtra to respect its order in letter and spirit.  Not only must the Gujarat police take up the task of reinvestigation and prosecution in right earnest, witnesses must be given full and fool-proof protection so that justice, although delayed, is indeed done.                                                                                                              -   The Indian Express

 

 

 

 

WHERE INDIA DOES NOT SHINE

 

THE SUPREME COURT judgment  ordering fresh investigation and trial in the Best Bakery case and shifting the trial to Maharashtra is the finest example of the apex court’s restatement of the importance of citizenship; human rights, the rule of law, the sanctity of the criminal justice system, and the role and responsibility of the executive.  The Best Bakery case, where the lower courts and Gujarat High Court acquitted 21 persons accused of killing 14, including two small children in the genocidal ‘riots’ that  followed the Godhra carnage, has come to represent for all of civilized India what Justices Doraisway Raju and Arijit Pasayat characterised as the “travesty of truth and a fraud on the legal process.”   In an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court also ordered the Gujarat  Government to consult the victims and witnesses before appointing a public  prosecutor,  this ought to be viewed as the severest  indictment of the insolence of the Narendra Modi regime in dispensing justice to the victims of the 2002 carnage. As significant is the Court’s criticism and expunction of the remarks  made by the Gujarat High Court against social activist Teesta Setalvad and the National Human Rights Commission.  The trial court fared  even worse :   it stood as a “silent spectator, mute to the manipulations and preferred to be indifferent to sacrilege being committed to justice.”   The re-trial ordered could mark the beginning of a determined effort by the highest court in the land to insulate the judicial process from political interference.  It could also turn out to be a new benchmark for trial of criminal cases against members of the ruling establishment, where there is no independent investigation or prosecution and the rule of law is subverted.

 

Despite the damning judgment, political reaction from the ruling camp have been predictable. While Law Minster Arun Jaitley does not perceive the judgment as a comment on either Chief Minister Modi or the Gujarat Government, Finance Minster Jaswant Singh views it as an indictment  of the Gujarat Government but not of the BJP.  This insouciance comes in the face of the characterization of the State administration by the judges as “modern day Neros” –choosing to look the other way while women and children were being burnt with a premeditated purpose and systematically targeted.  Given the fact that the BJP’s top leadership has recently sought to relegate the post-Godhra violence to the category of the “unfortunate”.  It is unlikely that the Supreme Court’s  indictment will produce any real expression of remorse or contrition.

 

While the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Best Bakery case exemplifies the restoration of the primacy of citizens’ rights against the indifference and arbitrariness of state apparatuses, justice still waits to be done on an extensive scale in Gujarat.  Consider these statistics of the post Godhra riots: Naroda Patiya – 91-200 killed, women raped; Chamanpura, Gulberg Society-40-65 killed, including ex.M.P. Ehsan Jaffrey; Odh Village – 29 burnt alive in one incident; Radhikpur village-20 known dead, several women raped and killed; Fatehpura – women  raped and forced to walk naked to the police station; Sardarpura Village-33 dead, 29 in one house; Anjanwa Village-11 known dead, women and children thrown into a well; and finally Geetaben, whose only crime was to have tried to save a Muslim.   These are just a few examples.  As long as justice is not done in all such cases, the events of February-March 2002 in Mahatma Gandhi’s home State will weigh on the conscience of every responsible Indian citizen.  Until then, there is no question of India shining.                                                                                                                          -   The Hindu

Oval: Combat Law has a special edition on the Best Bakery Judgment  -  for a copy / subscription, contact : - 
Combat Law :  4th floor, Engineer House, 86 Bombay Samachar Marg, Near Stock Exchange,  Mumbai  400 023,   India 
Tel: 91 22 22676680 /  22677385            Fax:  91 22 22632718 
  email: editor@combatlaw.org    website :   www.combatlaw.org
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


q       RICE  IS  LIFE

 

The UN has designated the year 2004 as the International Year of Rice.

 

 This Centre also supports several developmental activities and programmes all over Gujarat.  A good percentage of these are land-related eg. Water-shed Management and Agricultural Development.  Since Rice is staple to so many of our people (very specially the poor and the marginalized), we highlight here below, some dimensions of this International Year of Rice.

 

·   Mission Statement

The International Year of Rice (IYR) promotes improved production and access to this vital food crop, which feeds more than half the world's population while providing income for millions of rice producers, processors and traders. Development of sustainable rice-based systems will reduce hunger and poverty, and contribute to environmental conservation  and a better life for present and future generations.
 
·   The Theme :

The theme of the IYR - "Rice is life"- reflects the importance of rice as a primary food source, and is drawn from an understanding that rice-based systems are essential for food security, poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods. Rice is the staple food of over half of the world's population. In Asia alone, more than 2 billion people obtain 60 to 70 percent of their energy intake from rice and its derivatives.
 
 Rice-based production systems and their associated post-harvest operations employ nearly 1 billion people in rural areas of developing countries and about four-fifths of the world's rice is grown by small-scale farmers in low-income countries. Efficient and
productive rice-based systems are therefore essential to economic development and improved quality of life, particularly in rural areas.
 
There are about 840 million undernourished people, including more than 200 million children, in developing countries. Improving the productivity of rice systems would contribute to eradicating this unacceptable level of hunger.
 
·   Challenges and opportunities
 

     ¨  Improving food security and nutrition.
Although rice is a rich source of energy and protein, it has an incomplete amino acid profile and contains limited quantities of essential micronutrients. Nutrition can be improved by better rice processing and cooking techniques, the use of rice varieties with
 high nutritional values, and the fortification of rice with vitamins and minerals (e.g. through applying food technology). Food security can be enhanced by promoting complementary crops, livestock and fisheries activities within rice-based systems. IYR can help countries develop the infrastructure to support the responsible utilization of biotechnology. It can also increase awareness of the need to support the diversity of rice varieties to reduce genetic vulnerability and to enhance both rice productivity and quality. Diversity in rice-based systems greatly contributes to rural income and complete nutrition in a more balanced diet.
 
    
¨  Enhancing the productivity of rice-based systems.

Sustainable rice development requires: i) genetic improvements for higher yield potential, e.g. hybrid rice;

ii) better crop management techniques;

iii) reduced post-harvest operations;   and

iv) the development of integrated production systems.

It also requires improved national capacity, through training and information exchange, and the national-level transfer of safety-tested new technologies to the field.
 
   
¨  Managing water resources.

There is growing concern about the sustainability of global water resources. Water scarcity can be addressed by reducing the quantity of water required (through developing new rice varieties or improved irrigation systems) or by recycling water through multiple uses. The cultivation of rice in low-water regimes will lead to changes in water and nutrient management, cropping patterns and tillage practices. IYR can help improve understanding of the costs and benefits of water use in rice-based systems (e.g. the diverse life forms that such systems sustain). Technological developments and management interventions will also be required.
 

  
¨  Environmental protection.

Environmental concerns in rice production include indiscriminate use of pesticides, inefficient use of fertilizers, and emissions of greenhouse gases. At the same time, rice-based ecosystems host a wealth of biodiversity, and the majority of the planting material used by poor farmers is derived from seeds that they produce themselves and that represent generations of local genetic resources. IYR can spread awareness of the importance of preserving biogenetic and natural resources and can help stakeholders exchange ideas on environmental issues, challenges and opportunities.

 

PRAJAL encourages all its readers to make this year as worthwhile as possible and very specially to focus on aspects like food security and the food rights of poor and marginalized communities all over.

 


 

q       BOOKS AND DOCUMENTATION :

 

The Documentation Centre in Prashant continues to grow in leaps and bounds.  With over a thousand volumes of books,  innumerable paper clippings and a host of other resources, easily puts us as one of the most valuable Resource Centres   which focus on Human Rights, Justice and Peace.   It is therefore very natural that  researchers, scholars, activists and even the cursory reader, make great use of this Centre.  We also provide regular information to other significant institutions and organizations all over the world.

 

Besides, during the past months, we regularly update four electronic bulletin boards which provides important information to various groups on current happenings in Gujarat and in other parts of India.  If you wish to be placed  on one or more of them, just send us an email requesting us to put you on the mailing list.  From this issue onwards, we carry special reviews on one of the other resources which we have acquired.  The book “Globalization, Hindu Nationalism and Hindutva”:  by Dr. Lancy Lobo is an excellent work which must be read by all who are interested in understanding the various forces that are at work in the country today.  Apart from having a library edition, we also have a few copies for sale.

 

 

The Plain Man’s Guide to Hindutva – Globalization, Hindu Nationalism and Christians in India by Lancy Lobo,  Rawat Publications, Jaipur and New Delhi 2002.  Pages : 240                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         -  Myron J. Pereira s.j.

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The politics of hatred in India today has yielded an abundant harvest, and the future of justice, equality, democracy and secularism appears bleak.  When many people have absolutely no clue as to what is going on, there is all the more reason to be grateful to Lancy Lobo for giving us a concise description of the turbulence which affects India today.

 

Lancy Lobo, former director of the School of Social Studies, South Gujarat University (Surat), and presently director of the Centre for Culture and Development, Vadodara, has written a slim book but one packed with data, statistics and well-reasoned arguments.  For many of those ignorant of the reasons behind the present state of the country, it is a valuable guide.

 

Lobo argues that the present state is the result of two dominant processes  at work simultaneously in the country.  The first is globalization, of which there is increasing evidence that it has lead to a “cultural backlash”.

 

The backlash in India is a form of “cultural nationalism” or Hindutva, which is the second dominant process.  Hindutva glorifies the Hindu state, and tries desperately to mould the pluralistic identities of the Indian nation into one monolithic whole.  In brief, “Hindu nationalism”  means one Hindu nation, one Hindu culture, and one Hindu state.

 

Here in India, globalization both attracts and repels the large Hindu middle-class.  The attractiveness lies in the access to global capital and technology, and to global consumerism, the hallmark of the First World.  The fear comes from “losing one’s  roots,”  particularly the loss of caste, a particularly Brahmin anxiety.

 

“Christians” are the third term in the title of Lobo’s book, and he examines carefully how the two dominant processes impinge upon this group.

 

Christians in India are a small minority, yet they run 25 per cent of India’s  voluntary service sector (schools, colleges, hospitals, orphanages) and the beneficiaries of these services belong to all casts, creeds and cults.

 

Today, for various reasons, this small community has come under threat.  Various forms of discrimination and hostility are meant to create a state of fear and obeisance among Christians, and the Hindutva forces are succeeding.

 

The fear of the Christian Community is very real – there is growing discrimination against them.  But this discrimination does not affect the hierarchy, who continue to enjoy the patronage of the Hindu establishment for the institutional activities done  in their favour.

 

Because of this, there is a reluctance among the Churches to criticize the government publicly, to cooperate with each other; and a slowness  to reach out to secular, humanist and non-Christian groups.

 

And yet without such participation both within the Church and without, is the community not extremely vulnerable ? 

 

 

q       A Communicating Church in India :

 

The Catholic Bishops Conference of India (CBCI) met for their  26th General Body Meeting in Thrissur, Kerala from January 7th to 14th 2004.  The main theme of the meeting  was “Church and Social Communications”.   At the end of the meeting, the Bishops of India issued a Final Statement entitled “Called to be a Communicating Church”.  The Statement asserts that “we need to motivate all our Church personnel to actively participate in the new opportunities created by media and information technology to share the Good News and spread the Kingdom of God by fighting the menace of crime, corruption and communalism”.

 

The full text can be accessed from the CBCI website www.cbcisite.com

 

As a Secretariat for Social Communications of the CBCI Western Region Council, we have been quite involved  in various issues related with our mandate during these past months.  A highlight has been the annual meeting organized by us for representatives from the fourteen Dioceses at Ishvani Kendra, Pune from February 28th to 1st March 2004.  A detailed report of this meeting will be sent on request.

 

 

q       VISITORS :

 

Some of the visitors who visited  “ PRASHANT ”  during this period were :

Dany Heintz, AEI, Luxembourg.

Rachel Kurian, Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands.

Fr. Aloysius Irudayam, IDEM Centre, Madurai

Fr. Julian Fernandes s.j., Asstt. General, Rome, Italy

Lennard Roubos, ICCO, The Netherlands

Marc D’Silva, Director, CRS, India

K. S. Vengatesh, Director, CRS, Gujarat

Ehrhardt Wickhmann, Germany
Nancy Martin, Global Ethics and Religious Forum, USA

Philip Rossi, Marquette University, USA

Javier ArellanoYanguas s.j., Alboan, Spain

Myriam Artola, Alboan, Spain

Dr. Jeong Chae-Seory ( University of Foreign Studies, Seoul,  Korea

Dr.Lee, Jae-Sook,  HUFS, Seoul, Korea

Clare Nolan, New York, USA

Therese Meera, Bangalore

H. G. Geevarghees Mar Coorilos, President, National Council of Churches in India, Mumbai

Dolors Vidal, Spain

Fr. Martinho Lenz s.j., Brazil

Roswitha Cooper, Rome, Italy

Gilles and Leah Machaud, Canada

Patricio Rode, President ICMICA, Uruguay

Lanier Williams and Tom, USA

Stan and Mari Thekaekara,  Gudalur

Rifat Kassis, Palestine

Mieke Zagt, ICCO, Netherlands

Rebecca Tanji, Africa

Sorge Carrel, Switzerland

Aulikki Kalliolahti, Finland

Marjatta Hamalainen, Finland

Patricia Mascarenhas and Benita Menezes, Comet Media Foundation,  Mumbai

S. Jerome, CRS, Kabul, Afghanistan

Sajeda Momin, The Statesman, Calcutta

Frigeri Daniele, Social Justice Secretariat,  Rome, Italy

Cili Simonyi, BOCS, Hungary

Dr. Josie A. Bass, Alva Consortium, Washington, USA
Fr. Lucio Damboriena s.j., Spain

John Norman, Scotland, UK

 

 

q       Bal Vividha in Bhiloda

 

Bal Vividha is an educational resource festival that celebrates alternative approaches to learning.  Created by Comet Media Foundation in Bombay, it brings together educationists, NGOs and media people in a festive environment to make an exciting event for children and adults.

 

The festival consists of :

Interactive corners where children can learn through hands-on activities

Exhibitions and sales of children’s literature, educational toys and learning aids

Learning workshops for teachers, NGO workers, parents and children  where leading experts will pass on their skills and insights

A film festival, bal chitrapat mela featuring a selection of children’s films

A night sky programme at the mini-planetarium put up by the Nehru Planetarium

An amphitheatre with open-air performances by children and adults who work for children

 

 

For three days 14th to 16th February 2004, the grounds of St. Xavier’s School, Bhiloda, throbbed with unique activities  as more than 10,000 children drawn from  almost 80 schools and other institutions from Sabarkantha and elsewhere, celebrated  “Bal Vividha”.

 

The “Bal Vividha” in Bhiloda had over 20 interactive corners where children could learn through hands-on activities conducted by well-known Educational Institutions and NGOs from Gujarat and Bombay.  There was an amphitheatre “Rang Manch” with continuous shows:  puppets, street-plays, karate, magic, etc.   There was a film festival which provided a variety of films for children and the adults.  There were workshops for teachers and adults on issues like  “Panchayati Raj” and on the teaching of Maths.

 

The Bal Vividha was inaugurated by the DSP of Sabarkantha in the presence of the Provincial Fr. Jerry and a host of other dignitaries.  At the end of the three days, the participants were unanimous about the value of such an event and hope that it would continue in future.

 

With the effort of Frs. Valerian Dias, Cosmas Isaac and the  Bhiloda Jesuit Community, it was a memorable  event for all concerned.  The Bal Vividha was also a tribute to Fr. Ignacio Ordonez s.j.  in his Diamond Jubilee Year as a Jesuit, 33 of which have been spent in the Sabarkantha District.

 

The team of the Province Office for Integral Social Development (POISD)  / PRASHANT facilitated the entire programme and hope to bring Bal Vividha to some of our other centers in the coming months.

 

 

q       Resistance 2004 :

 

Resistance 2004 brought together persons, organizations and other fora committed to democracy and pluralism from all across the country for a daylong conference on April 4th 2004.   The conference emphasized the need and importance that every citizen needs to take sides in a unified civil-society action to prevent the fascist forces from gaining an upper hand in the country.  More information on Resistance 2004 can be had from Mr. Apoorva Anand  at  : resistanceever@yahoo.co.in

 

 

q       Christian bashing goes on…….  :

 

Christian bashing goes on in several of the BJP ruled States in the heartland of India……. 

 

On January 13th, in the wake of the brutal rape and murder of a 9 year old girl in the compound of the Catholic Mission School of Jhabua and the subsequent anti-Christian violence  -  the Vicar-General of the Diocese contacted  ‘ PRASHANT ‘  for help.   PRASHANT immediately alerted the National Human Rights Commission and other International bodies like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Hotline Asia, since the situation there  was getting out of hand.  Fortunately, due to outside intervention, greater tragedies were prevented.

 

Bishop Thomas Macwan together with a team from Ahmedabad Diocese later paid a solidarity visit to Bishop Chacko  of Jhabua Diocese.  On the suggestion of Bishop Thomas, the Director of PRASHANT was invited to visit the Jhabua Diocese to assess the situation and to provide some kind of orientation to key personnel in the Diocese.

 

Accordingly, a visit was paid to the Jhabua Diocese on the 18th and 19th of March.  The first stop was at Alirajpur which was a scene of violent anti-Christian attacks and also  where Fr. Stany Fereira SDB was very badly beaten up.  At a meeting with several Christian leaders cutting across all denominations, one could feel the fear and anxiety among the Christians.  Most were afraid to walk in town alone and both the Sisters and the  Fathers had curtailed their visits to the neighboring villages.

 

A model watershed programme by the Salesians on the outskirts of Alirajpur was laid waste beyond recognition and a lot of the hard materials (pipes, wire-fencing, etc.) were stolen by the truck-load  -  obviously by those hostile to such work.

 

In the Christian dominated town of Jobat, one experienced the pain and trauma of a woman who was brutally raped by important functionaries within the Hindu- fundamentalist fold and was unable to find justice inspite of having gone from pillar to post.

 

In the Bishop’s House in Meghnagar a whole cross-section of the Diocese (mainly lay persons) had gathered for a whole day orientation on March 19th.   All the participants were unanimous in expressing :

f     The fact that their ground reality was very serious

f     That most Christians lived in fear and intimidation

f        That something must be done in a strategized yet cohesive way to respond  to the onslaught of the 

 fundamental forces

 

Several important suggestions emerged from the participants and the Diocese now seems to have made a resolve to do something of the emergence of the fascist forces in the Diocese  and other parts of Madhya Pradesh.

 

Early in April, the Director was invited to conduct an Orientation Seminar on “Political Communalism : A Threat and Challenge to the Church” by the Diocese of Raigarh in Kunkuri.  Almost 300 representatives of the Diocese took part in the Seminar.  During this trip, there were also meetings with Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi, Jharkhand and Bishop Michael Minj of Gumla to discuss and assess growing fundamentalism in the tribal belt.  

 

 

q       WORLD SOCIAL FORUM :

 

The World Social Forum (WSF) is a response of the growing international movement that is challenging capitalist-led globalization and the neo-liberal economic policies pursued by most countries.  Firmly committed to the belief that Another World Is Possible , the WSF is an open space for discussing alternatives to the dominant neo-liberal processes, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening alliances and building coalitions among mass organizations, people’s movements, NGOs and other organizations.

 

Since its inception in 2001, the World Social Forum was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil.  About 20,000 people participated in the first WSF.  55,000 people attended WSF 2002.  WSF 2003, with about 100,000 participants, came to symbolize the strength of the anti-globalization movement and became a rallying point for the worldwide protest against the invasion of Iraq.

 

Sailing out of Latin America for the first time, the WSF anchored in the heart of Asia for the fourth edition held in the city of Mumbai from 16th to 21st January 2004.

 

The WSF is not an event held just once a year.  It is a process of coalition building that is deepening its roots across the world.  There have been continental and sub-continental forums (African, Asian, European, and Pan-Amazonic), local and national forums (Belgium,  Colombia, Greece, Portugal Sweden and many other countries) and thematic forums on Argentina and the crisis of neo-liberalism, on Palestine and the peaceful resolution of conflict and democracy, human rights and war.

 

The PRASHANT Parivar was totally involved in the WSF at the actual, preliminary and the post-stages.  We became part of SAPI (South Asian Peoples’ Initiatives) initiated by JESA (Jesuits engaged in Social Action). 

 

We were also deeply involved in the SOOF Patchwork Tapestry Corner.  This WSF event was symbolic of the confluence and dialogue of the WSF, an immense Patchwork tapestry of textile squares with images and messages from all over the world is being stitched together at the venue, to be draped on the stage at the closing evening.  The word soof means  patchwork, and it recalls the robes of the soofis who made patchwork garments from discarded clothing.  It also connected to the idea of recycling used materials, of not wasting resources.  

 

Besides, PRASHANT team members actively participated in various programmes during the WSF.  The Director in particular participated in the following :

-                Christian Forum for Global Solidarity 2004 organized by PAX Romana (ICMICA and IMCS)

-                Talk on the Indian situation to the French delegation

-                As panelist  on “The War on Terror and its Threat to Democracy” organized by CARITAS

           INTERNATIONALIS

-                As panelist on “Good Governance : The Role of Civil Society” organized by International Jesuit Network for Development (IJND)

-                A talk on the Indian situation to the Dutch delegation.

 

 

q             OUTREACH PROGRAMMES

 

During the past six months, we have been involved in several programmes locally, nationally and internationally,  Some of the significant ones were  :

o              Ahmedabad Diocesan Youth Meet, Dakor (October 28st 2003)

o              Mar Thoma Youth Conference, Ahmedabad (October 25th 2003)

o              All India Dalit Shakti Programme, Nani Devti (November 2nd 2003)

o              Hotline Board Meeting, Bombay (November 6th)

o              Talk on Freedom of Religion Law to CNI Pastors, Bharuch (November 7th 2003)

o              JDV Seminar in Pune – “Challenges to Pluralism : A Perspective from Gujarat”  (November 13th 2003)

o              “ Walk for Peace “   (November 18th 2003)

o              Seminar on “Sexual harassment in the Workshop” organized by AWAG, Ahmedabad (November 18th 2003)

o              Reception at the British High Commission, Delhi (November 19th 2003)

o              Local Capacities for Peace Training, Jaipur (November 25th to 27th 2003)

o              Address to Council of Indian Muslims, North London, UK (November 30th 2003)

o              LM Singhvi Lecture, University of Leicester, UK (December 2nd 2003)

o              Talk at SOAS, London (December 4th 2003)

o              Talk at Queen’s College, Oxford, UK (December 5th 2003)

o              Talk to Indian Muslim Federation, East London, UK (December 6th 2003)

o              Dharna on Human Rights Day (December 10th 2003) together with  Western Region Bishops’ Council

o              Talk to Western Region Catholic Council, Hansol (December 11th 2003)

o              Panelist at Times Foundation Meet on WSF Bombay (December 14th 2003)

o              Christmilan together with eminent citizens at PRASHANT (December 25th 2003)

o              Talk to Youth Sammelan for WSF, Ahmedabad (December 26th 2003)

o              Talk at Public Rally organized by IQRA Foundation, Ahmedabad (December 28th 2003)

o              Paper presented at International Conference on World Peace, Ahmedabad (January 1st 2004)

o              Talk at Ekta Samiti Meet, Ahmedabad (January 1st 2004)

o              Seminar to CRI, Ahmedabad Diocese (January 4th 2004)

o              Talk at Promise of India Conference, Delhi (January 8th 2004)

o              Seminar for Church Unity Octave, PRASHANT (January 23rd 2004)

o              Acceptance Speech at Communication for Peace Award, Bombay (January 30th 2004)

o              Keynote address and talk to Indian Catecathical Association, Bangalore (February 3rd to 5th 2004)

o              NISCORT Consultation, Delhi (February 14th 2004)

o              Talk at OXFAM Meet, Hyderabad (February 21st 2004)

o              PISA (Peace In South Asia) Consultation, Colombo (February 23rd to  26th 2004)

o              LCP Training, Guwahati (March 3rd to 5th 2004)

o              Training to British Council on LCP, Kathmandu (March  9th 2004)

o              Diocesan Think-Tank Meet, Ahmedabad ( March 30th 2004)

o              Youth Aman Karwan (April 10th 2004)

o              Social Awareness Programme for Queen of the Apostles Sisters, Ahmedabad (April 14th / 15th  2004)

 

 

q     PRASHANT GOVERNING BODY MEETING

 

On December 17th the PRASHANT Governing Body met under the Presidentship of Fr. Jerry Sequeira, the Provincial,   to review the working of Prashant and to “look ahead”.  Besides the Provincial, the members of the Governing Body are Fr. Jose Changanacherry, Fr. Dinesh Braganza, Fr. M. Gnanaraj, Fr. Lancy Lobo, Fr. Francis Parmar,  Fr. J.L. Arana and Fr. Cedric Prakash.  PRASHANT also has a wider Advisory Body consisting of several Eminent Citizens.