Issues Vol. 169‎ > ‎

Vol. 169 No. 33 • AUG 18 - 24, 2018

01 Cover

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:57 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:57 AM ]

03 Index

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:56 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:56 AM ]

04 Engagments

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:54 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:55 AM ]

05 Editorial - Challenges Are Not Lacking!

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:44 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:45 AM ]

We do not need convincing that climate change exists; we have fallen victim to it too many times for that. Each of the last four years has seen record-breaking heat. The decade from 2008 to 2017 was the warmest decade on record in India. This, coupled with mismanagement of water reserves, has led to more drought and water shortages: Shimla, for example, has recently seen its worst-ever water crisis, in turn leading to a 30% drop in flights and hotel bookings compared to last year - bad news for one of India's most popular summer tourist destinations.

Indeed, the World Bank recently identified climate change as one of the greatest threats to the growth potential of the Indian economy, and predicts a fall in living standards for nearly half of Indians, because of changes in temperature and precipitation. Our country and its people deserve so much better than this torturous future.

To add insult to injury, the major contributor to climate change – the burning of fossil fuels, and especially coal – provokes a myriad of other problems that cause suffering to Indians, not the least of which is air pollution. In many parts of India today, the irony is that every life-giving breath of air we take also increasingly contributes to our death. This mostly used to be a problem during the winter and around individual weather events – now, in places such as Delhi, toxic air is a threat all year round. More people died of air pollution in India in 2015 –1.81 million – than anywhere else in the world. Closing our eyes to this reality is to avoid the gaze of our conscience.

So much for the 'empty half of the glass'. The good news is that the solutions to this crisis are still very much in our hands and the hands of our global allies. Solar and wind energy – reliable methods of generating electricity that contribute neither to climate change nor to air pollution – are now cheaper than coal in our country. The argument that coal is the fastest or most sure-shot road to development simply doesn't add up any more, even before taking into account the money needed to treat patients with respiratory problems from harmful power plant emissions, rebuild cities after more intense flooding from climate change, or feed farmers whose crop fails due to more severe droughts – all negative consequences of using fossil fuels. India is already moving from coal to renewable sources of energy, and is becoming renowned as a solar leader globally; the quicker we phase out coal completely, the better.

At GCAS, Indian businesses and banks are coming to the table with pledges to reduce the emissions associated with their production and investments that prove they are serious about climate change. At COP24, the most important climate summit since the Paris Agreement was signed, India should push hard for a rule book that ensures the Paris Agreement is implemented in a fair and ambitious way by all countries, and prepare to increase the ambition of its own national climate plan to make sure the goals we signed up to in Paris – and on which the lives and livelihoods of large sections of our population depend – are met.

Pope Francis has appealed for a massive "financial paradigm shift" and "systematic and concerted efforts aimed at an integral ecology" that put human dignity and care of our common home at their heart. The scale of the Pope's call, in his speech, 'Challenges are not lacking' may sound daunting, but opportunities are not lacking, either. And huge challenges are something our country has a proud history of meeting with huge courage.

Bp Allwyn D'Silva is Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay & Secretary of the FABC Climate Change Desk.

06 I Respect You – Environment - Shawna Rebello

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:42 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:43 AM ]

Certainly, the environment is not what comes to mind when we think of respect. Respecting the environment might seem strange at first; but how can we not respect something that aids in keeping us alive by providing the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat and all the other materials that make our lives livable? In fact, we only have an environmental crisis, because we have always blatantly disregarded Nature. We can start to combat the crisis by respecting the environment, rather than disregarding it.

A good start is to familiarise ourselves with various environmental issues. This is because many of us still have a lot of misconceptions about the causes of environmental problems. For instance, many of us wrongly believe that global warming is a result of ozone depletion in the upper atmosphere; however, global warming is caused by the accumulation of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. Another common perception is that modern technology will solve any and every environmental problem. The truth is that despite our vehicles and factory vents being fitted with pollution control devices, air pollution-related deaths are on the rise – with 1.81 million deaths in 2015 in India alone. We may confidently drink filtered water, but no conventional treatment system can rid water from innumerable micro-pollutants such as pesticides, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, flame retardants, etc. While genetic modifications may increase the nutritive value of a certain foodstuff, we have no way of knowing what effects such altered genes have on our ecosystems. Prevention is always better than cure; if we don't want toxins in our water, then we must simply respect water bodies by not pouring anything down the sink that we would not want to drink.


06 I Respect: Health for All - Fr Rocky Banz

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:41 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:41 AM ]

Life is my gift from God. Hence, the divine mandate is that I respect, cherish and preserve this gift, and use it to serve God, the Church and the community. Preserving my gift of life goes hand in hand with nurturing my health, which is also my God-given wealth.

Fortunately, I enjoy several holistic tools that empower me to respect life by promoting my personal health, and spreading this message of health in my community.

Living in communion with the Almighty is the source of ultimate bliss. I have been able to embark on this journey only through a combination of prayer and spiritual meditation. Listening to the Lord's voice has instilled in me universal love, empathy and respect for my brothers and sisters, regardless of socio-economic, religious or political differences.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin rightly stated, "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are." Science has proven that every cell in our body depends on the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe. I make a conscious effort to consume fresh, natural and unrefined foods, which have a positive impact on my health and temperament. A healthy diet helps to optimally balance the physical, mental, and emotional aspects of my being. My body is a temple of God, hence my mindfulness about what I put into my body signifies my respect for God's gift of life.


08 Respect you Migrants - Fr. Jerome D'Souza SVD & Yorick Fonseca

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:39 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:40 AM ]

Passers-by at St Theresa's Church, Bandra on a Sunday evening must surely wonder at the overflowing crowd of brightly dressed young men and women attending the 4:00 pm Hindi Mass and milling about thereafter to socialise. The 2,000+ congregation that the parish ministers to weekly is comprised of members of the tribal migrant community, who come together to worship with zeal and fervour.

St Theresa's is but one of nine such centres in the Archdiocese of Bombay that cater to the spiritual and temporal needs of tribal migrants living in the metropolis. The centres are all part of a diocese-wide pastoral effort, led previously by Bishop Agnelo Gracias, and now by Bishop Allwyn D'Silva. They are knit together under the auspices of the Chhotanagpur Migrant Tribal Development Network.

Origins of Tribal Migrants

These tribal migrants come mostly from the Chhotanagpur Region of eastern India, in and around the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa. Their ancestors were baptised by Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries, who also helped them obtain the legal rights to forest lands. They remained relatively poor, however, due to low forest-source or agricultural incomes.

Migration to the City

The migration of these peoples to the big cities of India, including Mumbai, started in the 1960s and slowly gathered steam. They came mostly in search of economic opportunity, as domestic maids, in construction, and other service occupations. Most had little or no education.

Living alone in the big city, often in slums or other cramped conditions, the migrants were alienated from their home family and tribal cultures, traditions and values, and from pastoral care in their native language. Though baptised, they were not readily accepted by the local parish communities.

As a result, many grew vulnerable to exploitation, got involved in illicit relationships, fell victim to other urban ills, and drifted away from the Church. They were bereft of pastoral care, were not enrolled in any parish, and had little or no opportunity to meet as a community, hear Mass in their own language, and receive the Sacraments.


09 I Respect You – Victims of Addiction - Fr Joe Pereira

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:20 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:35 AM ]

"But I love you, Daddy"

Being the daughter of an alcoholic father, Jim Reeves' song "Your five year old face is a dirty disgrace, but you love me, daddy" changed to "I won a race in school on Sports Day, but you weren't there, daddy. Your bottle was your best friend, and it really hurt when you weren't there, daddy."

My father thought he knew what was best for me, but I didn't respect him, because he was an alcoholic. We used to fight constantly. Having a predisposition to addiction, I soon became hooked on marijuana, and my dad's pleas fell on deaf ears; because if he could drink, I could smoke, right? Wrong. I quickly made a mess of my life, and it was only through the amazing grace of God that I was brought to Kripa.

It was a two-fold learning for me. On one part, going through the programme myself to get clean, and on the other part, learning that I was a co-dependent and what that meant. The Kripa Model of recovery helped me to see in my father his helplessness and hopelessness, and how very lonely he was, and I recognised this in myself also. Now, there is new found love and respect both ways. I have been clean now nearly nine months, and miraculously, my father also does not drink that often any more. I am deeply grateful to Fr Joe and the Kripa family for this new lease of life. - IVY

I RESPECT YOU – Victims of Addiction

When an individual goes into any kind of addictive behaviour, one can observe the sense of being alienated from Society. Some look at Addicts as "Dregs of Society". Martin Buber said that love is an "I-Thou relationship" and when it is not available, one creates an I-It relationship with any substance or behavior, such as sex addiction, gambling, pornography etc. This creates a sense of isolation, and one literally lives in a world with a population of one (oneself). Recovery is to reverse this sense of isolation, and to feel loved and respected as a human being. Kripa Foundation, inspired by St Mother Teresa of Kolkata, treats every individual as the presence of God. "As long as one does it to the least of one's brother or sister, one does it for the Lord."


10 Manmade Disaster in Vasai - Fr. Francis D'Britto

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:18 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:18 AM ]

Vasai: a town with a glorious history

Verdant Vasai, once a gem in the empire of Emperor Ashoka, has been blessed with the presence of holy persons like Sage Parshuram and St Gonsalo Garcia. It is a town that has an illustrious historical and cultural past. The town of Vasai, with an estimated population of 25 lakhs, was cut off from the rest of the world on July 9, 10 and 11, 2018. It was an unprecedented event. All forms of communication and travel came to a standstill. The town had no electricity for over 48 hours. The roads resembled ravaging rivers. Waist-deep water invaded houses and shops. Vegetable produce rotted in the farms. Fisherfolk could not sell their catch. Many of those who lead a hand to mouth existence spent three days without food. Children cried for food, while residents watched stocks of food being washed away in the deluge. The sick could not avail of medical aid. Many homes were waterlogged for nearly a week. Drainage water invaded several homes. Worse still, the distraught residents felt orphaned, as hardly any one lent a hand of support.

The cause of the waterlogging

I am a son of the soil and have witnessed many monsoons. Heavy rainfall is a characteristic of this place. However, in the past, the collected water always receded after a while. That leaves one with the question: 'Was this flooding an act of nature, or was it manmade?' Why did the planning of the Municipal authorities fail? In fact, the Municipality needs to conduct a strict audit of its own functioning. The 200 mm downpour was considered a reason for the disaster. It is high time to give up this blame game, and do some soul-searching to find the reasons for the disaster. It is also time to ensure that adequate steps are taken to prevent such a catastrophe in future.

The topography of Vasai

To understand why waterlogging occurred in Vasai, it is important to look at the topography of the region. Vasai is bordered by the Sahyadri ranges to its east, the Arabian Sea to the west, the Vaitarna creek to the north, and the Bhayandar creek to the south. The north-south railway line that runs through the region is flanked by salt pans and agricultural lands. Rainwater drains into these low lying lands, and then enters the Arabian Sea. History speaks of Sopara being a famous port, and Bolinj (near Virar) being a centre where boats were anchored. All these areas have been concretised, and thus natural drainage routes have been blocked. The torrential rainfall of July 26, 2005, where Mumbai received 910 mm rain in 24 hours, affected Vasai as well. However, the waters receded in a short while. That was a warning sign to Vasai which went unheeded. Rather, the very area, where rain water could stagnate, was used to construct towering buildings.


11 Remembering Kandhamal as much as we would like to forget it! - Tehmina Arora

posted Aug 14, 2018, 9:16 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Aug 14, 2018, 9:16 AM ]

The first ever large-scale violence against Christians of Kandhamal in the state of Odisha is an incident which perhaps most Indian Christians would like to leave behind, and forge ahead as our peace-loving community has always been known to do. Sadly, we have no choice, but to observe a prayerful Kandhamal Remembrance Week from August 25 to September 2, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Kandhamal riots.

As we continue to pray for a peaceful India and cordial co-existence among all Indians with our different cultures, beliefs and habits, let me recall what happened ten years ago, so that it does not occur again.

It was an aftermath of the murder of Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati, allegedly by Christians (though later, the investigations proved it was by Maoists) on August 24, 2008, that witnessed the mobs brutally attacking Christians, their homes and churches. More than 100 people were killed, and over 50,000 were displaced from their homes and villages, driven into the forests and relief camps for fear of their lives. Over 8,000 homes were looted and burnt, and over 300 churches demolished. About 12,000 children's education was disrupted; 40 women were sexually assaulted.

As a young lawyer, at that time, I found myself being called upon to provide much needed solace to the helpless victims and their families. So, with the assistance of several organisations, the Odisha Legal Aid Centre was established. Though the resources were limited, the dedicated group of lawyers and activists made up for it.

As we travelled from village to village, and relief camp to relief camp the incidents of violence grew more and more horrific - people butchered by mobs, homes set ablaze with people still inside, a pregnant mother running for her life in the forest, delivering a premature baby girl in the forest, and cutting the umbilical cord with a stone.


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