No. 1 October 2003
Today is October 2nd 2003 ! Exactly two years ago on this day, PRASHANT was blessed by the Bishop of Ahmedabad, Rev. Stanislaus Fernandes s.j. and the Bishop of Baroda, Rev. Godfrey de Rozario s.j. It was inaugurated by the well-known champion of human rights, Mr. Girish Patel, who also delivered the keynote address on “ PRESENT DAY THREATS TO HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA ”. Fr. Jerry Sequeira s.j. the Provincial of Gujarat Jesuits, and several other dignitaries were present for this occasion.
Ever since, PRASHANT has been involved in a whole range of programmes and activities in its dual but yet inter-related responsibility of being a Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace and the Province Office for Integral Social Development (POISD) of the Gujarat Jesuits. These involvements are at the local, national and international arenas. The Gujarat Carnage of 2002 literally set for us an agenda and focus.
Our many involvements have also brought us into contact with a number of well-wishers and friends who have expressed a desire of being kept updated of the activities of PRASHANT. On this auspicious day, we have therefore decided to launch “ PRAJAL ”.
PRAJAL, in essence, comes from the Gujarati word “prajalvu” which means “to set on fire”, “to burn”….and symbolically “to enlighten”. The aim of PRAJAL is threefold :
· to inform about the major activities and programmes of PRASHANT
· to advocate emerging trends / issues on human rights, justice and peace
· to highlight other programmes / persons in keeping with our aims and objectives
POISD was established on September 9th 2000 by the Gujarat Jesuits. On June 1st 2001, work was begun in its current premises in Hillnagar and on October 2nd PRASHANT was formally inaugurated, with the dual responsibility mentioned above. In the three years of existence (as POISD), much has been accomplished. However, this first issue of PRAJAL highlights only those programmes and activities undertaken from April 2003.
For the moment, PRAJAL will be brought out every quarter : October, January, April and July. We are sending it electronically to as many as possible – and as a “hard copy” to a few.
We sincerely hope that PRAJAL becomes as interactive as possible : we therefore welcome your comments and suggestions in order to make this effort both relevant and meaningful. Since October 2001, there are several people from all walks of life who have not only visited PRASHANT but also supported us in our efforts to bring about a society which is more secure, more just, more humane and more peaceful. We thank each one for this accompaniment and pray that this step today , may go a long, long way.
Fr. Cedric Prakash s.j.
DROUGHT AND RAINS :
If there are just two words which could symbolize these past six months, then these are “DROUGHT and RAINS”. Gujarat never had it so bad with three successive droughts in the years gone by. The biggest sufferers were the tribals from the tribal belt and the small landholders very specially from Central and North Gujarat who are totally dependant on the monsoons for atleast one meager crop. As in the past years, we once again had meetings in South Gujarat, (Vyara) and in Sabarkantha (Bhiloda) with some of our partners. We were able to support fairly important pre-monsoon programmes in Modassa, Meghraj, Bhiloda, Vijaynagar and Dharampur. The works included the deepening of “talavs” and “wells”, the building of earthen check-dams and contour trenches and providing fodder for the cattle and seeds for the farmers so that they be better prepared for the ensuing monsoons.
The rains did come and in good measure ! For the first time in several years, most of the people across the board were satisfied with the monsoons (not however in the Bhiloda area which received very scant rainfall). In Ghatia village (in the remote Vijaynagar Taluka), a small check-dam has literally meant that the whole village does not have to be bothered for its water needs for most of the year. However, with the heavy rains in some areas, some of the poor were also affected . In the Nani village (not far from Deesa) of Banaskantha District, forty six families of the Majirana community were evicted in 1999 by the Airforce Authorities since their houses were on their land. They now live in deplorable conditions in ramshackle huts on the Panchayat land. Incessant rains this year too made their lives totally miserable. Through Catholic Ashram Deesa, we were able to provide them with some makeshift shelters. In Kadi Taluka (specially the villages of Varkhadia and Shedarana), several of the families lost their houses due to flash floods. Through the Unteshwari Mata Mandir Kadi, we have been able to support the rebuilding of twenty of the most affected houses.
Over the years, our response to contain the drought has been rather ad hoc. Together with several Jesuit-run and other centers in South and North Gujarat, we are currently looking into a long term programme in water-harvesting which will ultimately lead to watershed development. Technical expertise has been sought from the WOTR Foundation in Ahmednagar and already some donor agencies have expressed a willingness to support financially this long term endeavor.
THE UNITED NGO MISSION MANIPUR (UNMM) is an umbrella organization of thirty-five NGOs and CBOs (cutting across ethnic and religious lines) working in Manipur. For the last four years, we have been accompanying them in a Local Capacities for Peace Project (LCP) supported among others by EED (Germany), ICCO (Netherlands) and CDA (US).
From 23rd March 2003 onwards, we had planned in Imphal a follow-up for those who were trained by us earlier. (The TOT had taken place in Guhawati in 2002). Wolfgang Henrich (of EED Germany) was the Co-Trainer. That morning, together with some others, he decided to visit one of the project sites. Whilst they were returning to Imphal, the group was waylaid and Wolfgang was kidnapped for an initial ransom of
Rs. 1 crore. What followed was days and nights of trauma , tension and negotiations at every possible level. Given the track-record of this particular underground outfit (who were desperately trying to get legitimacy by any means), there were fears that Wolfgang would not be released or ……
However, on April 9th, he was finally released much to the delight of all concerned. The peace process in the North-East was definitely sabotaged; but given the resilience of those involved, efforts with a new impetus, are being made anew. The LCP process will also continue with a fresh request received from UNMM. Speaking of the LCP, two of the liaisons – Winifred Fitzgerald and Marge Tsisouris were here in Ahmedabad on a CARE assignment in May and then again in August. There was also a good meeting with Steve Hollingworth (another LCPwalla and currently the Country Director of CARE INDIA). Some small world this LCP thanks to the indefatigable Mary Anderson !
THE CARNAGE IS ON :
Living in the Bombay Hotel area (near Narol), are twenty-six families who once lived in the Naroda-gam / Naroda Patiya area of the city and whose lives were totally ravaged by the marauding mobs from 28th February 2002 onwards. These families, after spending months in the Shah-a-lam relief camp, were relocated to this area which is an industrial manufacturing area, totally unfit for human habitation. There is neither electricity nor drainage in this area and right through the monsoons, the people lived in a virtual hellhole.
A further twenty-two families (also from Naroda-gam and Patiya) live in one-room tenements in Ramol on the eastern outskirts of the city. There is just one tap of water for all these families, with no sanitation facility. The women have to walk atleast two kilometers a day to bathe.
Meera Malek and her Centre for Development, have been responding to these forty eight families who are victims of the Gujarat carnage of 2002 which left thousands of Muslims battered and bruised. Their hope is to be able to provide some kind of livelihood to these families before they are actually evicted from these areas or before they die due to starvation and an unhealthy environment. The work is commendable. In some small ways, we are helping Meera and her team realize a dream for these families, who have not only been marginalized but also ostracized from the rest of society.
In the wake of the carnage, two young and enterprising film makers Ajay Raina and Leah Mathew began work in the Kasai-ni-chali in Behrampura. Their work among these victims of the violence was essentially among children and youth. A lot of good work was accomplished over the last several months. However, both Ajay and Leah now need to move on and focus on some of their other activities…..Meera and her husband Rafi have agreed to take up the challenge and to continue the work in Kasai-ni-chali too. We have been providing a support service for this work too.
THE BEST IS THE WORST :
The Best Bakery has today become synonymous with all that is wrong with our society and yet at the same time it has become – (thanks to the valiant efforts of Teesta Setalvad and her Citizens’ for Justice and Peace -with whom we are involved, a host of others and also to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) - a peg for the aspirations of so many millions of this country who would like “Truth”, “Fairplay” and “Justice” to prevail.
Our Documentation Centre has meticulously compiled every aspect of the case from the time the Best Bakery was razed to the ground on March 1st 2002, killing fourteen people till today.
Like so many others, we await with unabated breath for October 9th hoping that truth and justice will have a new lease of life in Gujarat.
TEESTA SETALVAD :
Whilst on the topic of the Best Bakery, one cannot help but salute Teesta Setalvad for so courageously being at the helm, fighting against all that is wrong in Gujarat. Over the months, inspite of all odds, she has stood her ground and has kept the focus of world attention on Gujarat.
She was able to put together a group of eminent persons called the Citizens’ for Justice and Peace. She later inspired and initiated the Citizens’ Tribunal headed by Justice V. R. Krishna Iyer whose report ‘ CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY ’ is the most authentic and comprehensive account of the Gujarat Carnage till date. In August / September 2003, “Communalism Combat” (the monthly which Teesta together with her husband Javed Anand edit) completed ten full years of excellent service to the cause of human rights, justice and communal harmony. We congratulate them on this.
Besides, Teesta has been receiving a string of awards nationally and internationally -which she richly deserves. The latest was the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award which was presented to her on September 14th 2003 in Nuremberg, Germany. Fr. Peter Ballies and some other Jesuits from Nuremberg (who are also supporting our work in Gujarat) were happy to be present at this unique ceremony.
We, at PRASHANT, feel proud and privileged to be associated with Teesta and her works. Copies of Communalism Combat are available for sale at our Centre. Besides, we also take in subscriptions for the English / Gujarati editions.
We salute you Teesta !
Another initiative launched for the last several years by Teesta has been Khoj (Education for a Plural India) PRASHANT has also been collaborating in this endeavor and in the workshops conducted for teachers in different schools in the State to be able to understand how hate and prejudice is created through the Text-books. One recent workshop was conducted for 33 teachers in Himmatnagar. A recent publication brought out jointly by Khoj and PRASHANT (in Gujarati) is entitled “Teaching Truth…..Prejudice Free” : TEACHER’S CAMPAIGN (copies available with us).
Speaking about the Text books of Gujarat, a whole campaign has been launched in order to ensure that all offensive paragraphs and chapters are omitted very specially from the Social Studies Text Books. We are hoping that there will be some measure of success from the academic year beginning June 2004.
In March 2003, Shabnam Hashmi brought together in New Delhi, a group of eminent citizens which included among others, Shubha Mudgal, Harsh Mander, K. N. Pannikar in a new initiative called ANHAD (without limits) (Act Now for Harmony And Democracy).
ANHAD intends to intervene in defense of democracy, secularism and justice which is being threatened in Gujarat and in several parts of the country today. It attempts to combine elements of a structured organization and large-scale popular movements by collaborating with such and by undertaking local level activities and instituting small secular communities.
On 10th April, 50 persons from all walks of life met together for a day long workshop at PRASHANT to discuss the launching of ANHAD in Gujarat. The response was extremely positive as many of the participants pledged their wholehearted cooperation and support to the initiative.
From May 15th onwards, in tandem with several local organizations and individuals ANHAD organized five-day Residential Workshops in six districts of Gujarat. The aim of these Workshops was to educate a whole cross-section of society about the emerging divisive forces in the country and to provide skills and strategies to counter them. Noted Scholars, Film-makers, Human-rights and Social Activists constitute the resource teams for these Workshops.
On July 1st, ANHAD celebrated COMMUNAL HARMONY DAY to commemorate the martydom of Vasant Rav and Rajab Ali. (On the evening of July 1st 1946, two friends Vasant Rav and Rajab Ali received information of communal tension and heard of houses and shops being burnt in Jamalpur. They decided to go and try to prevent the senseless violence. They were both killed while trying to maintain peace). The programme for the day included “Umbrellas for Peace”, “Posters for Peace” , “Exhibition”, “Poetry”, and other performances by the famed “Mrigya” group, Shubha Mudgal, Aditi Mangaldas and other.
ANHAD has currently launched a youth initiative called “ YOUTH 4 PEACE “ with several other plans in the offing.
PRASHANT is deeply involved in the programmes and activities of ANHAD and their Gujarat office is housed in our Centre.
Our Centre continues to be a hub of activity and it is also used for all kinds of programmes in keeping with our Aims and Objectives. Our set-up with some fairly good facilities, is often used by various groups.
A regular activity that takes place, is a “think-tank sessions” where some of the leading Human Rights, Social Activists, Intellectuals come together to reflect on what is taking place both in the State and in the country. Many of these think-tanks have been around the visits of people who could make an intervention from a different perspective, and would like to be educated on the current reality of Gujarat.
Two significant meetings that took place during this period were :
JAI ADIVASI :
The onslaught on the tribal identity by the combined forces of the fundamentalists, the powerful and other vested interests has eroded every dimension of their life. Several groups and centers have been working with the tribals all over Gujarat on various issues from education to empowerment. One major concern has been “the forest land” issue which has been taken up in a very concerted way by the Adivasi Mahasabha. A massive Dharna was held in Gandhinagar on September 10th 2003 to focus on the various issues that were confronting the tribals of Gujarat very specially the threat of eviction from “forest land”. PRASHANT extended its support and solidarity to this Dharna.
We have also been supporting the training of tribal lawyers and paralegals organized by the Legal Aid and Human Rights Centre (LAHRC) of Surat, directed by Fr. Stanny Jebamalai.
FIGHTING DRACONIAN LAWS :
Gujarat State tops in arresting people under POTA (Prevention of Terrorism Act) and many are aware that several who have been detained under this dreaded law are innocent victims. Ironically, every single one of the detainees is from the minority community. We have been trying to fight this law and also have made appeals to the National Human Rights Commission to look into every instance of those detained under this law.
On 13th June 2003, we were invited together with several other human rights and social activists to interact with the Chairman and Members of the National Human Rights Commission and presented a written submission to the Commission and also joined in a more elaborate one with others.
On March 26th 2003, the Gujarat State passed the “Freedom of Religion Bill 2003 without any opposition”. This is another law which contravenes the fundamental freedoms and rights guaranteed to every citizen, very specially those enshrined in Article 25 of the India Constitution.
However, till today, the Government of Gujarat has not framed the rules and other modalities needed for the implementation of this law. This helps the initiators of this law in the following ways :
· it can be used effectively and manipulatively by lower officials against those who do not know the nuances of any legislation
· it sends an “appropriate” message that they are fulfilling their “election promise”
· it prevents any one from seeking any legal action
We continue to fight the repressive anti-Constitutional measures and at the same time, through various think-tanks and other fora, we make people at every possible level, aware of their rights guaranteed in the Constitutions.
MINORITY RIGHTS :
Whilst speaking about fundamental rights, we cannot help but refer to the fact that the minorities of Gujarat – mainly the Muslims, continue to be at the receiving end.
On June 7th, the National Commission for Minorities visited Ahmedabad to take stock of what is happening here in Gujarat. We were invited and delegated, and therefore made a written submission to them with very concrete examples of the demonization and the victimization of the minorities in the State. However, the respected Commission seemed to have come to Gujarat with a set mind and all the factual information that we presented to them seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.
In the middle of May, the Jesuit Fathers of Patan were interrogated by the Police in the middle of the night and as late as 14th September, innocent tribal Christians were viciously attacked by some followers of some fundamentalist organizations, in the Tamchadi village of Dharampur Taluka. The biases of local police and other authorities become blatantly obvious when very often the real victims are also regarded as the perpetrators of the crime. We have made a written submission to the National Human Rights Commission on the incident too.
PRASHANT receives twenty newspapers (in Hindi, Gujarati and English) daily, besides, several magazines and journals from all over the world. A team of volunteers meticulously document all issues concerning the work. We are also on the mailing list of several well-known electronic bulletins. A small but useful range of social films and documentaries on video and CD complement the resources at the Centre.
Our Documentation Center is widely used by research students, journalists and others. We are regularly asked to provide vital informations or clippings in the context of human rights and justice issues of Gujarat. Requests come in from all over the world and some months ago, we also had to send some vital information directly to the Secretariat of Parliament in Delhi.
The leaflets published by us (“On Being Prepared” and on “Citizen’s Responsibilities”) (in English and Gujarati) are in great demand and are widely used by individuals and groups all over Gujarat. Further, with ANHAD, we had jointly published several important documents in an effort to promote communal peace and harmony.
Krishna Gagne, a law student from the Montreal University, Canada (who spent almost three months with us doing an internship between May and July 2003) and Nidha Ghouse from Tufts University, Boston (who spent several weeks researching at our Centre from July 2003 onwards) utilized the resources at our Centre and proved to be resourceful to us too.
Documentation becomes useless if we are unable to optimize it. So, communicating knowledge has been a fundamental to us.
We feel privileged to be a resource centre for the media (both print and electronic) locally, nationally and internationally. Through our resources, we have been able to ensure important editorials and features in some of the leading newspapers and journals. An important feature of PRASHANT are the regular PRESS CONFERENCES on various issues organized either singly or jointly with other orgnizations. There is a constant interaction with the media and our opinions and comments are constantly sought on vital issues. Whenever the need arises, we also release a statement to the press, very specially in the context of a human rights violation or abuse.
In the recent months, we were interviewed for some fairly significant international Journals, TV and Radio ; among them were Radio New Zealand, Australian TV, BBC Radio, Far Eastern Economic Review Hong Kong and The Tablet, London
Part of our responsibility is being the secretariat for Social Communications of the Western Region Bishops’ Council of the Catholic Church (this covers 15 Dioceses in the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa). From July 24th to 27th, we organized a fairly successful regional meeting in Goa with the theme ‘RESPONDING TO THE NEW MEDIA CULTURE’. We also moderate a regular electronic bulletin called SOCOM which goes out to several individuals and institutions in Western India.
CHURCH AND SOCIETY :
As an organization belonging to the Society of Jesus, we play a significant role in programmes and activities connected with the Catholic Church and the Society of Jesus in Gujarat. The Bishop of Ahmedabad has constituted a think-tank in which we participate actively.
Frequent visits to Jesuit Centres is our responsibility. In order to facilitate an integralsocial development, we coordinate the Justice and Peace works of the Diocese of Baroda. The area which this Diocese covers has been the focus of attention the world over for the last several years : the Narmada Dam, the Kakrapar Atomic Power Project, the Plague of Surat, the Tribal identity, the attacks on Christians and Muslims, the Dangs, Godhra and now Best Bakery……
Another electronic bulletin which we send out regularly to Jesuits of Gujarat is named “jesuitscorrespondence”.
We have also been deeply involved in the various responses of the Jesuits of Gujarat to critical issues through the Superiors / Heads of Commission fora and JESA. At a wider level, we have been making ourselves available to Church Bodies and programmes like GEBCI, CRI and others.
WITH OTHERS :
MANOS UNIDAS (the Spanish Campaign by Women) has been the mainstay of this Centre. It was they who made possible the initial grant for the renovation and the start of PRASHANT. We are therefore extremely privileged to be recipients of their largesse and their constant support and solidarity.
It was also an honour for us when they sought our expertise to undertake an evaluation of their support to various projects in Gujarat for over forty years. Though it was a herculean task, we took up the challenge and with cooperation from many, we are now in the final stage of preparing the report for them.
The Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Baltimore, Delhi, Mumbai has also supported our day to day human rights work. We played an important role in organizing a meeting here on April 11th 2003 with some of the key Directors of the Cathoic Relief Services and the Bishops of Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Baroda and Rajkot together with the Directors of Social Work of each of the Dioceses. This was followed up by a meeting in Rajkot on July 22nd with an intervening meeting only with the DDSWs on June 9th here in PRASHANT.
As a member of the Governing Body of the Indo German Social Service Society there have been the routine Board and Project Selection Committee meetings during this period. However, the highlight of these past six months has been an Organizational Development Process which was held together with MISEREOR. There were three stages – the first one in Mussoorie (May 9th to 11th ) followed by Kathmandu (June 18th to 21st) and the grand summit in Goa (August 4th to 10th).
Whilst we are with the Germans, we cannot but help recording our gratitude to Fr. Peter Ballies and the Mission Procurators Office in Nuremburg for the consistent help provided, through POISD, for important works that are being carried out throughout Gujarat.
MOTHER TERESA :
On October 19th 2003, Mother Teresa will be Beatified in Rome. Our relationship with the Missionaries of Charity in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat and India is a special one. Together with other Church bodies, for the last few weeks, we have been trying to look into various details of preparing the programmes here in Ahmedabad and also seeing how best we can ensure a complete coverage of the activities of the Sisters here in Gujarat.
One of our major strengths is our ability to link up and work with various networks and for a – locally, nationally and internationally.
Apart from those already mentioned earlier, we are actively involved with the Movement for Secular Democracy, the Gujarat Lok Sangharsh Samiti (we are also supporting their Gram-Swarajya Movement) and a few others.
The WORLD SOCIAL FORUM will take place in Bombay from January 16th to 21st 2004. We are part of the Gujarat Social Forum and also at a Jesuit level, with the South Asian Peoples’ Initiative (SAPI). The Social Communications Commission of the CBCI (Western Region) will also be organizing a seminar on the media during the WSF.
The works of PRASHANT continue to be recognized both nationally and internationally. During the last six months, we were invited :
· to Spain, by MANOS UNIDAS to speak at their ASIA FORUM in Madrid from 27th March to 4th April 2003 on the topic “India : Challenges to Peace and Development”.
· to Sweden, by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to speak on “The Role of Civil Society in Peace Building and Conflict Management” at their conference in Harnosand, from 21st to 23rd May.
· to the United States, by the INDIAN MUSLIM COUNCIL to speak at their First Annual National Convention at Santa Clara on 28th June on the topic “Gujarat : A YEAR AFTER”;: and this was followed by a speaking tour to several cities of the United States
· to Egypt, by the Jesuit Network of IPC to present a paper “Pushing the Indian Muslim to the Brink : a view from Gujarat” at the Colloquium in Cairo from 30th August to 6th September
Our other notable interventions during this period have been :
q to the AICUF National Seminar, Baroda (14th June) – a talk on “India is Pluralistic : Preserve it, Proclaim it !”
q to a Seminar organized by Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (Pune) at Ahmedabad (17th June) – a talk on “Freedom of Media in Democracy : A Licence to Influence the Masses”
q to the members of MEGUKO (Sophia University Tokyo, Japan), at St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad (2nd August) – a talk on The Human Rights Situation in Gujarat and in India”.
q To the members of the Jagrut Group, St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad – a talk on “Values and the Challenges Faced by Students Today”
Members of PRASHANT also took part in :
o The National Youth Conference organized by the National Alliance of Women Organizations (NAWO) Bangalore (May 22nd / 23rd )
o The Annual Convention of the Movement for Secular Democracy (MSD), Ahmedabad (6th September)
o Seminar on Communalism, Bombay (April) organized by Centre for Studies in Secularism
o A Workshop on Conflict Management by OXFAM GB in Ahmedabad - (May 1st to 7th ).
o Several other meetings, dharnas, rallies, think-tanks, workshops and other programmes organized in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat.
VISITORS TO PRASHANT :
PRASHANT constantly welcomes visitors from all walks of life : social and human rights activists, academics, students, people who are interested in the work, friends, well-wishers, victims of all kinds of injustices, police from the intelligence department, and even sometimes those who have been sent in by the Sangh Parivar ! Since our services are available to the four Dioceses of Gujarat, we also have several Priests and Nuns who frequent our Centre.
Among some of the notable visitors (apart from those already mentioned earlier) to PRASHANT, from April onwards were :
· Timothy Shah of the Ethics and Public Policy Centre, Washington
· Diana Barnes, Foreign Affairs Officer of the US State Department, Washington
· John Amick, Vice Consul, Economic Affairs, American Consulate General, Bombay
· Arundhati Mundlay, Political Advisor, American Consulate General, Bombay
· Fr. Stan Fernandes, Provincial, Pune Jesuit Province
· Fr. Tony Da Silva, Professor, JDV, Pune
· Aruna P. R., Librarian, U.S. Library of Congress Office, New Delhi
· N. M. Prusty, Director, Emergency & Rehabilitation, CARE India, New Delhi
· Ravi Puranik, Partners in Change, Baroda
· Shankar Venkateswaran, Executive Director, American India Foundation, New Delhi
· Fr. Nithiya Sagayam, Executive Secretary, Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, CBCI, New Delhi
· Sean Callahan, Regional Director – South Asia, CRS, New Delhi
· Steve Hilbert, India Country Representative, CRS, New Delhi
· Ken MacLean, West India Representative, CRS, Bombay
· Leela Mulukutla, Deputy West India Director, Bombay
· Madeleine Smith, Base Manager, CRS, Bhuj
· Fr. Michael Perry, Justice and Peace Programme, US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington
· Moiz and Francoise Rasiwala, France
· Fr. Ed Daly s.j., India Catechetical Association, New Delhi.
WORKING IN TEAM :
PRASHANT has a small but highly dedicated team to carry on its day to day activities. These are complemented by an equally dedicated group of volunteers (some who come regularly and others when required). In the absence of the Director, Fr. Francis Parmar s.j., the Principal of St. Xavier’s College steps in.
The PRASHANT team today consists of Veronica D’Souza, Beena Macwan, Manjula Vaghela, Carmen Gomes, Kiran Desai, Hastimal Sagara, Joseph Dominic and John D’Souza…..
Joining us on a very regular basis as volunteers are Audrey Rebello, Grace D’Leema, Kamana R, Srinivas Iyer, Pranali Rozario, Julie Ekka, Urmila Parmar and several other Pre-Novices from Sughad-Panth.
Mr. Simon Parmar the Editor of the ‘DOOT’ and our next door neighbour is always a source of strength and support, willing to lend a helping hand whenever needed.
Fr. Jose Changanacherry, the Rector of Loyola Hall, is a constant source of inspiration and motivation.
Upto June 2003, Fr. Chandresh Christi and then his successor Fr. Dinesh Braganza, (Directors of the Pre-Novitiate) and their companions Frs. Isudas, Vincy Saldanha and Alex Thanipara form part of our wider family.
Apart from the hard work put in by everybody, we try to find time to share and relax and occasionally have a little celebration together.
Given the nature of the work in PRASHANT and the demands we constantly have to meet, the output of every one is much above average. But there is so much here to be done. We look forward to many more supporters and collaborators.
A WORD OF GRATITUDE :
PRAJAL will not be complete if we do not record our gratitude…..
Ø to the many many faceless individuals who provide us the possibility, the opportunity and the inspiration to work for them.
Ø to MANOS UNIDAS, the Catholic Relief Services, OXFAM GB, AEI, Fr. Peter Ballies, and a host of other benefactors who provide us with financial support
Ø to all our collaborators, partners, colleagues with whom we share a vision and a determination
Ø to our several friends, well-wishers and supporters in Ahmedabad and other parts of Gujarat and in India and in fact, from all over the world who have been encouraging us, and who give our work a HOPE and a MEANING.
Ø to our friends in the media who have accompanied us in our quest for justice, truth and peace
Ø everyone else, however insignificant their contribution may seem……we need it and THANK YOU for it !
Since this is our very FIRST issue – we needed to provide both, a historical perspective and a fairly comprehensive record of our activities……We hope that it would give you a glimpse into our work. We look forward to your comments and suggestions…….
THE PRASHANT PARIVAR