Sunday, September 30, 2012

Not vegetarianism or dieting, Mr. Modi by Indira Hirway(The Hindu)

Not vegetarianism or dieting, Mr. Modi

Indira Hirway, The Hindu 
LOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited&#1 
LOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. File Photo

Low wage rates, poorly functioning public schemes and patchy access to water and sanitation are the real explanation for Gujarat’s persistent malnutrition

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s remark in an interview to Wall Street Journal that high malnutrition persists in his State because Gujaratis are mostly vegetarian (implying vegetarianism causes malnourishment) and are middle class, and more conscious about their looks and putting on weight than their health, created a furore. What explains Gujarat’s paradox of hunger amid the seeming plenty?

Economic growth and malnutrition do not have a one-to-one relationship. However, if malnutrition persists even after high growth, there can be two sets of reasons: one, people are not aware about the importance of nutrition and/or there are cultural practices that do not allow people to consume nutritious food. For instance, they eat expensive but unhealthy food (Incidentally, there is no evidence to show that vegetarian food causes malnourishment). Two, economic growth does not create large-scale productive employment with decent work conditions i.e. with reasonable wage rate, good working conditions and social protection.

The first reason may have played a marginal role, but empirical evidence suggests that the second reason is important in Gujarat. To start with, in spite of a slightly higher workforce participation rate compared to other States, the quality of employment is extremely poor in Gujarat; with the result that a large part of the workforce does not have enough purchasing power to buy enough food for the household. About 89 per cent of men workers and 98 per cent of women workers in the State are informal workers (the all India figures are 90 and 96 per cent respectively), who usually earn low wages, have poor working conditions and low social protection.

Wage rates
The wage rates of casual and regular workers of both men and women workers in rural and urban areas are very low compared to other States. As per the latest National Sample Survey Office statistics, the daily wage rates of casual men and women workers in rural areas are lower than the corresponding rates in India, with the State ranking 14th (Rs.69) and ninth (Rs.56) in men’s and women’s wage rates respectively among the major 20 States. In the case of urban casual workers’ daily wages, the State ranked seventh (Rs.109) and 14th (Rs.56) for male and female wage rates. In the case of regular rural workers also the State ranked 17th (Rs.152) and ninth (Rs.108) in the male and female wage rates respectively. The corresponding ranks for urban areas are 18th (Rs.205) and 13th (Rs.182) respectively among the major 20 States in India.

In short, in spite of the high growth rate, wages in the State are repressed with the result that most workers do not have the purchasing power to buy adequate nutritious food.

Special schemes
There are problems with the functioning of major special schemes for nutrition. As regards the Public Distribution System (PDS), till recently the State was providing much less than the stipulated 35kg food grains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households on the ground that the number of BPL households in the State was much larger than what the Centre had estimated and was providing for. The State was not willing to use its own funds to meet the deficit. Several studies including our own study have shown that PDS, Mid-Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Services (particularly for pregnant women and mothers) are not working well in the State. A common observation of these studies is that these schemes work well when there are local organisations putting pressure on local administration. The instructions from the top are not implemented well at the ground level, largely because there is no strong monitoring. And as only a fraction of the State is covered by such organisations, the schemes work well only in limited areas. In other words, the possibility of improved nutrition through these special schemes also is not good.

Water and sanitation
Finally, the recent data of the 2011 Census of Population has shown that Gujarat lags behind many States in providing potable water and safe sanitation, which are critical in transforming food intake into nutrition. The Census shows that about 43 per cent of rural households get water supply at their premises and only 16.7 per cent households, treated tap water. About one fifth of the rural households, mainly women, walk long distances to collect water ­ impacting adversely on their health. In the case of urban areas, the situation is slightly better: 84 per cent households get water at their premises and 69 per cent, treated water.

As regards sanitation, Gujarat has a long way to go. According the 2011 Census, 67 per cent of rural households do not have an access to toilets and more than 65 per cent households defecate in the open, polluting the environment. The State ranks 10th in the use of latrines. Our recent study adds that 70 per cent villages in the State have yet to organise waste collection and disposal, and 78 per cent have yet to put up drainage for managing liquid waste. In the case of urban areas, the State ranks ninth in terms of the use of latrines. As studies have shown, in spite of the efforts made, waste management is a serious problem in most urban centres.

As a result, the incidence of diseases is fairly high: our recent study shows that 44 per cent villages have reported frequent occurrence of jaundice; 30 per cent, malaria, 40 per cent, diarrhoea, and 25 per cent, kidney stones, skin diseases, joint pain, dental problems, etc. In the case of urban areas also there are frequent reports of outbreak of diseases.

In short, the growth process in the State has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. It is not surprising therefore that National Family Health Survey 3 has shown that Gujarat not only ranks low in nutrition of women and children but has also performed very poorly in the recent decade. There is a need for the State to take a fresh look at its growth process.

(Dr. Indira Hirway is Director and Professor of Economics at the Center for Development Alternatives, Ahmedabad, and co-author of the State Human Development Report 2004.)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Starving for an Equitable Food System By Lindsey Walker

Starving for an Equitable Food System

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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 26 2012 (IPS) - The root cause of hunger and malnutrition for millions of people worldwide lies in the severely skewed and unfairly structured hierarchy of policymakers, not in natural disasters or food shortages, according to the Right to Food and Nutrition Watch 2012 (RTFN Watch) released Tuesday.
Jorge Medina practices integrated, diversified farming on land near Havana. Credit: Ivet González /IPS
The report entitled “Who Decides About Global Food and Nutrition: Strategies to Regain Control” describes marginalised people, such as peasants and the indigenous, who continue to suffer hunger despite their efforts to farm and cultivate their own food, as “victims of selfish interests”.
The report outlines how ineffective policies surrounding food security and agricultural development breed hunger and malnutrition globally.
Martin Wolpold-Bosien, a founder of the Watch, told IPS, “Food and power are related,” he said. “This is very clear. As long as we do not empower the people, more are affected by hunger and nutrition.”
Wolpold-Bosien is a the coordinator of the Right to Food Accountability at Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN), which annually publishes the globally respected publication, RTFN Watch.
According to the Watch, there is a direct correlation between power and food, in that those with power never hunger, and those without any voice in decision-making have lost individual sovereignty over their own nutrition.
The report defines food sovereignty as “the right of Peoples to define their own policies and strategies for the sustainable production, distribution, and consumption of food, with respect for their own cultures and their own systems of managing natural resources and rural areas, and is considered to be a precondition for Food Security.”
There is an emphasis on the idea that chronic hunger, food riots, and other complications following natural disasters and emergency situations are not direct results of the situations themselves, but rather of the serious gap which exists between decision makers and the effect of those decisions on the livelihoods and daily needs of civilians.
The main reason for this growing gap is that governments and multilateral organisations are relying ever more heavily on public-private partnerships as stakeholders in the path to end hunger, including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and the Scaling Up Nutrition Initiative (SUN).
According to the Watch, public-private partnerships seek a solution through short-term intervention strategies, as opposed to the holistic approach designed to cut the cause of hunger at its roots.
Wolpold-Bosien expressed to IPS his concern in the role of Public-Private Partnerships in the Private Sector. “You cannot expect the private sector to be the best actor for public interest,” he said. “The private sector by definition is constituted to serve the private interest and their business.”
The RTFN Watch argues that, although Public-Private Partnerships are often considered a necessity in the funding of development work, deeper analysis of these partnerships unveils the contradictory agendas involved. The underlying causes of nutritional deficiencies are rarely addressed while very selective programmes are targeted, thereby overlooking locally derived causes and needs.
The RTFMN Watch outlined seven case studies of individual countries, one from each continent, in which the right to food and nutrition are violated due to ineffective legal structures. It also made the direct connection between these violations and the states’ unethical seizures of natural resources and land grabbing, as seen in the case studies of Mexico and the Arab Spring.
“It is impossible to combat the causes of hunger while keeping existing power relations untouched,” stated civil society representatives in an official statement.
The solution to hunger, they argue, is in citizen action, social movement, and the redirection of control from the companies and severely compromised, and often corrupt, chain of power back to the civilians themselves.
The proposed plan of action is to occupy political space, or “Occupy the Food System,” a social movement to include the voice of all people, rich or poor, in the decisions regarding their own food and nutrition.
“Human rights are perhaps the most efficient weapon for the combat against hunger,” Wolpold-Bosien told IPS. If we do not open political space and occupy political space for them and their voices, it’s very difficult to do something against the structural courses of hunger.”
An important step was made toward achieving the goal with the reform of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) in 2009. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the CFS aims to be “the most inclusive international and intergovernmental platform for all relevant stakeholders to work together to ensure food security and nutrition for all.”
“So this is the point—we have to use those instruments that help people affected by hunger and malnutrition to raise their voices and to be more powerful.” Wolpold-Bosien told IPs. “And human rights is absolutely a strong tool because it is an obligation of states.”
The report is the fifth annual RTFN Watch. It was published by 15 civil society organisations and their partners with the intention of creating a platform for activists, media, and scholars to promote, advocate, and lobby for the right to food and nutrition.
It is also a tool to pressure national and international policymakers into prioritising the human rights of the civilian, especially because the RTFN Watch is the first and only of its kind.
“This report is human rights based and helps people to visualise their struggle at a global level,” said Wolpold-Bosien.
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-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

Dear Friends,

It is good to be here today!

It is indeed a great privilege and honour to be invited to deliver the keynote address at SAMPRATHI 2012 the two-days National Seminar” on “Human Rights Advocacy: An Avenue for Social Change” organized by the Department of Social Work of St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) Mangalore.

At the outset,   I would like to place on record my sincere gratitude to the Principal Fr. Swebert D’Silva sj; to the Head of the Department of Social Work, Dr. Loveena Lobo; to the Convenor of this Seminar, Mr. Roshan Monteiro and all other faculty and students involved in this Seminar.

The theme itself is a very engaging and challenging one. I am sure the deliberations over the next two days will not only give us a deeper understanding of the many dimensions and ramifications of ‘Advocacy’ but would hopefully make each one of us gathered here true advocates, to ensure social change at every possible level. 

Having said this, I would like to invite each one of you to come to grips with the theme itself so that the conversations we have in the course of the Seminar will be focused and engaging. 


v     Meaning of Advocacy:
If we restrict ourselves purely to the dictionary meaning of ‘advocacy’, we would be limited to “the act of pleading for, supporting or recommending; active espousal” and here we are talking about a cause, an issue.

‘Advocacy’ is an ongoing process aimed at changing attitudes, actions, policies and laws by influencing people in power, systems and structures at different levels for the betterment of those affected by the issues.

Advocacy requires a series of well-planned and interconnected areas to be implemented over a period of time. 

However, in today’s environment, which demands radical social change at various levels, advocacy is something much more!  It pre-supposes at all times a very high degree of Compassion, of Courage and of Commitment.

In the course of this keynote address, an attempt will be made to amplify each of these aspects.

v     A historical perspective:
Advocacy perhaps first got legitimacy in the wake of the Second World War. The pain, the trauma, the brutality of it had left peoples and nations scarred forever. The holocaust was surely a chapter that the world would like to forget.  The horrors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still remains deeply embedded in human memory. So it was fitting that the leaders from across the globe at the conclusion of World War II, unanimously and unequivocally uttered that cry together “NEVER AGAIN!!!”  This cry first gave birth to the United Nations and a little later, from the visible unity and commitment demonstrated by all, emerged the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)

This great Charter which was promulgated on December 10th, 1948 ultimately became not merely a vision but also a mission (a strategic action plan) which was intended to give a more humane and just direction to the world in the years to come.

It was fortunate that our country gained independence in 1947 just when the fires of World War II were dying down.  The tremendous desire for social justice and peace for the new- born nation would have been uppermost in the hearts and minds of the Constituent Assembly in the drafting of the Constitution, which remains for every single citizen of the country the bulwark of our democracy. 

It was perhaps the vision and commitment of Dr. Ambedkar and his colleagues that ensured in 1949 that our Constitution is rooted in the four fundamental principles of justice, liberty, equality and fraternity. The entire Constitution evolved and revolved on these four basics. It was quite obvious that the whole country was expected to mainstream these cherished values for a more just and humane society for all.

Many decades have gone by since that two year period between 1947 and 1949 when the world in general and India in particular hoped for a new beginning.  But as we look back and look at our country today, it is plagued with all kinds of problems at every possible level. Corruption rules the roost; Casteism and Communalism have eaten into the foundations of our democracy.  Politics is Criminalized and thanks to what liberalisation, privatization and globalization have done to our economy, blatant Consumerism has become the catch-word of the new generation.

Even as we prepare this address, we are really not sure of what will be the fate of the Central Government in a few days from now. Growing political instability, the advancement of regionalism and the inability of Governments both at the Centre and the State, to address and tackle crucial aspects of a country in middle-age has added to the woes of many millions, very particularly, the poorest of the poor.

What the country desperately needs is social change!  We are convinced that human rights advocacy is a time-tested avenue for this.


It is important at this juncture, to highlight the fact that this great institution, St. Aloysius College, Mangalore (which can rightly claim a rich heritage and education of the highest quality) is a Jesuit institution;  I too, am a Jesuit and very proud of the fact, without wanting to be condescending or patronizing.

An important, though perhaps, not propagated dimension of the Jesuit way of proceeding is its attempt at advocacy. In January 2010, the Ignatian Advocacy Network (IAN) was born. This network recognized that the Society of Jesus has been, and still is, ‘one of the most widespread grassroots organizations in the world in contact with low-income, disadvantaged and otherwise marginalized people.  It also has one of the largest pools of knowledge and research facilities, and is in contact with many people in decision-making positions.’

IAN was created in an attempt to address the problem of disconnectedness of these three major assets of the Society of Jesus.  In view of this, one of the papers by Fr. Jimenez (A shared vision of Ignatian Advocacy: Advocacy themes and their linkages) stated thus: “Advocacy covers a wide range of possible actions ranging from social mobilization to direct dialogue with decision-makers.  Public advocacy is part of a long process that establishes stable commitments with affected communities, sets up alliances and builds up citizenship in a participatory civil society.  The aim is ultimately to promote critical and constructive engagements with the centres of power, and the perspective should always be that of the oppressed and excluded. Advocacy in the Ignatian perspective incorporates elements of contemplation and knowledge of oneself; it is not conceived as a way of acting from outside the subject, but as a process in which our involvement transforms us.  Learning how God loves this world, we love it in the same way.  All this calls for discerning our objectives, measuring forces, and living out the tension between prophecy and pragmatism. As Turner suggests, our advocacy should be: qualified (competent, helped by research, self-conscious); relational (centered on people, not only on issues, and practiced through encounters); and Ignatian (spiritual, attentive to the presence of God).


The fact that, after sixty five years of independence, “human rights for all”, remains an illusion,  at least a distant dream, is stating the obvious. 

We live in a country that has been gripped by many ills and a whole host of human rights violations, perhaps at every possible level.

Just a couple of months ago, here in Padil, Mangalore, a group of youth who were apparently having a good time together were just bashed up by right-wing extremists; in Madhya Pradesh, thousands of people have been displaced because dams were constructed near their small land-holdings and there was no appropriate land acquisition in place; in Koodankulam, Tamil Nadu, thousands of villagers have been protesting the construction of a nuclear plant which will not only affect their livelihood but will also be detrimental to their health; in Bombay, sedition charges have been slapped on a cartoonist because he dared to portray Parliament in an insensitive manner; in West Bengal, a man is thrown to jail because he dares to challenge the Chief Minister on a specific issue; in Gujarat, young men, who know the truth are just killed by the police in “fake encounters”; in Chhattisgarh, a great humanist like Dr. Binayak Sen is jailed for his ‘association’ with the Maoists.

The list is endless indeed! One only has to switch on one of our many 24x7 TV channels or open any of our daily newspapers to be aware of the inhuman reality that literally overwhelms us.

Our focus therefore is very clear.  Advocacy is about people: their rights and freedoms, the access they need to have to the basic amenities of life and to growth and development. In all these, there has to be a definite option for the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and exploited sections of society.  Advocacy means providing a voice to these voiceless.


Advocacy has several dimensions and it comprises a whole range of involvements from twittering and signing online petitions to serious study research; through diplomatic and sensitive negotiations and possibly also through very visible and vocal protests.

Let’s then pay attention to some of these dimensions.          

·        Awareness
Awareness is identifying an issue / concern / problem that should be addressed within society.  For example, the issue could be contaminated drinking water, child marriage, or environmental pollution.  Awareness also includes researching the issue for a deeper understanding. Awareness is two dimensional: me becoming aware and then making others aware. One becomes aware of a reality through the newspapers, TV programmes, word of mouth or simply an experience.  In this first step, one needs to let others know about what is happening, to find out some facts for oneself, to get as much information as possible.

·        Documentation
Documentation is basically collecting as much information on the issue as possible.  The information may be collected from newspapers, the internet, witness statements, professional opinions, or legal proceedings.  It is important to preserve the original documentation so critics cannot claim that the documentation is false.   Also, it is important to collect not only information that supports your position on an issue, but also the counter-information so that plans could be tailored to take on the critics, if need be.  Documentation also includes photos, videos and other articles that could be used as evidence.

·        Visibility
Visibility is being an active person on the issue.    To become visible, a person must be present and be engaged with the issue.  A visible person participates in events, speaks to the media and networks with other groups. We can easily point out very visible persons in the context of social / political movements. Mahatma Gandhi in the Quit India, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the US civil rights movement and Medha Patkar in the context of the Narmada Dam.

·        Ownership
Ownership is essentially taking responsibility for the issue.  Ownership includes the moral obligations towards an issue and towards the aggrieved party.  

·        Communication
Communication is speaking for / about the issue.  There cannot be any advocacy worth its name if effective communication is not an integral part of it. Communication comes in many forms.  It may include speaking at rallies, writing articles for the media, creating online petitions or putting on street performances for the public.  Communication is any manner in which the advocacy group acts or behaves to inform the public.  Communication can even be the absence of communication, for example, refusing to sign a petition or declining to attend an event. 

·        Action
Action is organizing and participating in events that further the issue.  Action includes both organization and participation and are mutually important.  For any advocacy event, the event must be well planned to be effective.  Examples of events include sit-ins, rallies, and other forms of creative protests. 

·        Collaboration
Collaboration is networking with other groups for various issues.  When networking with other groups, labor, time and money can be decreased by pooling resources.  For example, when two groups work together for an event, they can reduce pamphlet costs because they can create one pamphlet with both groups’ information.  Also, the number of volunteers will increase so bigger events can occur, which will bring more publicity to both causes.  Recently in Mangalore, several academics got together to protest against the saffronisation of the school textbooks and of the anti-minority bias in them. This coming together definitely generated a lot more interest in the issue and would definitely create the much needed impact.

·        Yardstick
Yardstick is creating and monitoring the issue’s goals and personal goals.  Creating and monitoring goals is an important tool for evaluating not only the success of the cause, but one’s personal progress.  By reflecting on the issue and determining how far one has come can help determine where one needs to go. Goal-setting is certainly an important dimension even if we do not reach the desired goals; we at least know where we are heading and how the campaign is going on so far.

Friends, in this Seminar, you are going to delve in various possibilities; the rights of children, of employees, of sub-altern groups, of women, of the disabled, of the unorganized sector the need for greater protection of the environment.  The question that will have to be uppermost in our minds during these deliberations is whether we are able to transcend our social work studies and the narrow confines of a classroom into something more engaging and meaningful like advocacy.

Advocacy, we should be convinced is not merely the prerogative of the armed chair academic. It is an essential tool and within the reach of all – from a frightened student in a classroom who is desperately trying to finish one’s assignments or prepares for one’s exams to a courageous street fighter. It does not matter who it is.  Human rights advocacy is the need of the hour and it should be used by all of us to ensure social change.

At this juncture, perhaps all of us need to take a cue from our Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore when he prays in his Geetanjali:

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free,
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls,
Where words come out from the depth of truth,
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection,
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sands of dead habit,
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever widening thought and action,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, led my country awake!”

(This key-note address was delivered at the National Seminar on ‘Human Rights Advocacy: An Avenue for Social Change’ organized by the MSW Department of St. Aloysius College (Autonomous) Mangalore on September 25th, 2012)

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333   Fax:  79 27489018


Monday, September 24, 2012


 Anna-Maija Raittila's funeral  can be watched on

Näytä albumi
Anna-Maija and Cedric

(April 2012,Helsinki)

Näytä albumiNäytä albumiNäytä albumi  

-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

Dearest Anna-Maija, it is hard for me to believe, that you are no more! 

When I first heard of your going home on August 25th, my immediate prayer was one of GRATITUDE: thanking God in a very special way for all you have meant to me and to so many others, not merely in Finland but also in Gujarat and several other parts of the world!

I last met you on April 14th at the Pakilan Hyvan Paimenen Kirkko! I still can’t get over the beauty of that encounter; the way you looked at me and perhaps, relived almost forty years of a very special relationship. That day, I tried to tell you many things, but your only reply was “boi! boi! boi!”  I still relish your wonder and joy at seeing me once again and the tears that streamed down your frail face as I wrapped that shawl, (which I carried all the way from India), around you. It was indeed a very special meeting for me and somehow when I wished you goodbye at the end of the programme, deep down within me, I truly felt, that I would never see you again!  How true that feeling, has been!

But today, as I join in spirit, several others to bid you a final farewell, I would like to pay tribute to you in highlighting some of those qualities which have perhaps endeared you to so many, all these years.

If there is one single quality which epitomizes you is that of compassion! I have literally seen it overflow from you at so many different times and in so many different ways. It did not matter who the person was: you always took time out to give the other - a little of your time, of your self, of your love.  All this, inspite of the fact, you must have perhaps been the busiest person in the whole of Finland

What struck me, several of my companions and the children of Gujarat, was your ability to reach out to our efforts! You hardly knew us, but you made the Educational Sponsorship Programme (ESP) your very own; bringing little things like the embroidery works from Estonia, from Hungary and from other parts, so that you could sell them in Finland and send the money to us.

The work you have done for our children, the efforts you have made, the others you got involved, truly shows that all along, your heart had no boundaries: it was just compassion!

I have told you this more than once that you were truly “une femme formidable!” as the French would say.  It was not because you were a powerful person but because you were “simplicity personified” who had the courage to do things differently.  These days, I have been looking at the press clippings and the many pictures of my first journey to Finland in 1987 and I have been reliving those moments when I really could not “keep pace” with you in every possible way!

You left no stone unturned at that time, (and always) to ensure that my travel was not only meaningful but because of your courageous spirit, it would open many doors.  In you, I saw spirit that was unrelenting in every way, whatever the obstacles and difficulties. 
This courageous spirit is amplified when one is able to grasp the fact that you were able to transcend the narrow confines of denomination, religion, nationality, ethnicity and whatever else, in order to make our world a better place.   The Finnish people will surely raise a toast to you, for the courage you personified: as a woman and as a spiritual leader.  It was this courage that gave hope to me and to many others.

And finally, I have simply been amazed at your commitment!  It has been steadfast and unflinching for every cause, for every person that was near to you.  I know how committed you were to your beloved Taisto.  Your one dream was to come to India, to visit us and our work; but Taisto would never think of it. He was mortally afraid that something might happen to you over here, so you never did that trip in his lifetime.  When you actually planned to do so, God had other plans for you, and sent you the illness from which you are totally free today.  Yes, Anna-Maija, to Gujarat you never came, but you have never faltered in your commitment to what we do here. 

Above all, your commitment was to the Master.  You were his disciple, complete in his image and likeness, giving your best to-all-and-sundry: whether it was your cats in Morbacka, to nature around you or to writing a book or a poem. All who knew you were certain that your commitment was steadfast!
There is so much more that I would like to say about you Anna-Maija, you are a person who has profoundly impacted my life.  As a young Jesuit novice, I used to wait for your long hand-written letters and the lovely hand made cards, you would regularly send me during your travels; I still treasure many of them!

During my many trips to Finland, it was always a joy to meet you and to just “give in” to the programmes all across the country which you so meticulously organised.

I can surely go on and on….. but I would like to stop here…. to say a very big THANK-YOU for all that you have meant to me, to the children and the people of Gujarat and to so many others! 

At this moment, I take great consolation at the fact that you are enjoying that eternal happiness that you so richly deserve: I also know that from above, you will be watching over me, our works and on all of us here on earth….

So Anna-Maija, till we meet again, “THANK-YOU and GOOD-BYE!”

22nd September, 2012

(A tribute to Anna-Maija on the day of her funeral)

(* Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of the Educational Sponsorship Programme of the Gujarat Education Society)

Fr Cedric Prakash sj
Gujarat Education Society(ESP)

Newman Hall
St. Xavier's College Rd
Post Box 4002
Navrangpura PO, AHMEDABAD 380 009
Gujarat, INDIA
Tel:   +91 79 66522333/27455913
Fax:  +91 79 27489018

On Accepting the CCCI Excellence in Social Service Award

On Accepting the CCCI Excellence in Social Service Award

Your Excellency, Mrs. Margaret Alva, Governor of Rajasthan, Rev. Elias Gonsalves Bishop- Elect of Amravati, Mr. Vincent Mathias, Director, M/s Velvin Packaging Pvt. Ltd, MrHenry Lobo, Chairman, Christian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), all other Board Members of the CCCI, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I feel both humbled and honoured today on receiving the Excellence in Social Service Award from the Christian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

I want to say a big ‘THANK YOU’ to all concerned, for considering me worthy to receive this prestigious award. 

In the type of the work I am engaged with, when one necessarily has to take on the most powerful and other vested interests, one receives more brickbats than bouquets! So when such an award comes one’s way, it is certainly a breath of fresh air and an added motivation to the work we do.

In accepting this award in all humility – I do so on behalf of the many we work with, whose human rights are violated all the time….

For me, an award is never about one’s self, (that should matter the least), but at the fact, that there are growing human rights violations in the world we live in and the victims in most cases are the poor, the marginalized, the sub-alterns who desperately need each one of us to give expression to their pains, sufferings and the de-humanised conditions of their existence.

A high profile audience, like those gathered here today, certainly do not need a talk on what is happening today to the other half of our society.  What I sincerely hope is that in some small way, my coming here today would make a small difference in the lives of some, to reach out to the less privileged of our sisters and brothers. It is not without reason, that Jesus reminds us, that at the Last Judgement, we will be asked questions which are extremely simple but yet very embarrassing. None of us at that moment should in any way attempt to utter: “but when did I see you Lord….?”

Any award is a recognition not only of the person concerned but at the fact that there are so many others who ensure that the works happen! I therefore, at this ceremony want to recognize several who have been traveling this journey with me as friends, companions,mentors, volunteers and colleagues. 

This evening, I would like to dedicate this award,to ALL my colleagues -those who have been with me in the past and very particularly to my  colleagues today in PRASHANT: Beena, Freda, Lona, John and Joseph, who have accompanied me in a special way these past many years.

Time constraints do not permit me from saying much more.  In thanking each one of you, very sincerely for this honour, I want you to join me in praying in the words of our Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore “Into that heaven of freedom my Father, let my country awake…”  Let each of us awake!  Thank you!!!

(This Speech was given by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj on receiving the CCCI Excellence in Social Service Award from H.E Mrs. Margaret Alva,the Governor of Rajasthan, at Hotel Kohinoor Continental, Mumbai on 22nd September, 2012)