Monday, November 30, 2015

CLIMATE JUSTICE by Fr. Cedric Prakash sj

-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

The Climate Summit referred to as COP21 begins in Paris today with 150 world leaders participating and over 190 countries represented. The main focus of this United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is to cap the rate of global warming at 2 degrees Celsius. (global warming today is pegged at 2.5 – 3.76 degrees Celsius).  The delegations over the next eleven days are expected to put together a deal on climate change which could effectively cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions between 2015 to 2030 which would hopefully bring down the global temperatures to pre-industrial levels over a period of time.

The UNFCCC was created in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The agreement there desired that countries take measures to address climate change; however, it was not binding. In 1997, the Kyoto Protocol in Japan set binding targets for carbon emission. COP15 in 2009 (Copenhagen, Denmark) decided that upto 100 billion dollars will have to be given as aid to help developing countries to reach their emission goals by 2020; despite various promises and pledges over the years, precious little has been done by the major players.

Global warming in the last few years has resulted in major catastrophes like the accelerating rise of sea levels, punishing droughts, killer heat waves, terrible floods and storms; it has also resulted in tsunamis and earthquakes. Those who are impacted by global warming are some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people; it disrupts food production and threatens vitally important species, habitats and eco systems.  According to recent study, the Antarctic and Greenland have lost 5.5 trillion of ice. By any standards, 2015 was one of the hottest years, experienced the world over, besides several “natural” calamities took place all over!

Last year, global carbon emissions were the highest ever. China is today considered the biggest polluter followed by the US, the European Union, India, Russia and Japan. Unless these countries demonstrate a political resolve to cut down on the emissions, things may not change dramatically. 

India has rightly talked about climate justice and the need and importance for China, US and West European nations to take the first steps.  But India cannot absolve itself of its role in global warming even though its contribution is far below that of China or US. If the country is serious about addressing climate change and of ensuring climate justice for all, it must immediately act on several fronts, including:

i.                    putting an immediate cap on the use of fossil fuels; promote the use of alternative energies very particularly wind and solar energy. The Government must provide subsidies for these very particularly for the poor and the marginalised. Alternative energies should not be seen as mere cosmetics (add-ons) but need to replace conventional sources of energy
ii.                  implementing stringent environmental protection laws for multi-nationals and other big corporations who pollute the environment. Many of the industrial houses that are unable to do what they want in their own countries find in India an easy place to maximise their profits. The ‘Make in India’ slogan is for many an invitation to plunder and loot and to disregard basic environmental laws and the lives of the poor here.
iii.                ensuring that global warming is a responsibility and concern of all; so the Government has no business in stifling an organisation like ‘Greenpeace’ that has rendered a yeomen service to the environment all over the world and in very tangible ways addressed climatic change. The Government must have the courage and honesty to take on board NGOs and others who have at heart only the good of the country and particularly the most vulnerable sections of society, who are affected by climatic change.

Pope Francis has been particularly strong on the topic; in his Encyclical ‘Laudato Si: On the care for our common home’ he writes, “climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods. It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day. Its worst impact will probably be felt by developing countries in the coming decades. Many of the poor live in areas particularly affected by phenomena related to warming, and their means of subsistence are largely dependent on natural reserves and ecosystemic services such as agriculture, fishing and forestry.” (#25).....“many of those who possess more resources and economic or political power seem mostly to be concerned with masking the problems or concealing their symptoms, simply making efforts to reduce some of the negative impacts of climatic change. However, many of these symptoms indicate that such effects will continue to worsen if we continue with current models of production and consumption.” (#26)

In the run-up to COP21, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has once again reminded developing nations to keep their pledge to provide 100 billion dollars a year by 2020 to support concrete mitigation actions by developing countries for a durable universal deal to address rising greenhouse gas emissions.  “I expect the world to conclude a universal climate agreement in Paris. The agreement must be durable – it should provide a comprehensive, long-term vision of the opportunities created by low-emission, climate resilient development and flexible. It must be rooted in solidarity”, he said.

On Sunday 29th November, there were massive rallies across the globe demanding substantial action from the world leaders to stop climate change; besides an estimated 200,000 were expected to descend on Paris but the French Government had banned all protests; instead thousands of pairs of shoes were left on the ‘Place de la Republique’ to remember those left frustrated in their plans to march.  A symbolic but powerful reminder that the road ahead for climate justice is going to be a long and tough one!

30th November, 2015

(* 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 Saffron Hotel, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: (079) 27455913, 66522333 Fax:  (079) 27489018                             

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why India must push for a climate deal that is both just and ambitious by Ipsita Chakravarty (

                                                      CLIMATE CHANGE

[India will be one of the worst affected by rising global
temperatures. Extreme heat already kills hundreds in summer, the smog
over North India thickens with every winter and mortalities related to
air pollution have soared. Cycles of drought and flood have wreaked
havoc in the agricultural lands. In a hotter world, millions living in
the floodplains and coastal areas will be displaced.
But curbing climate change is not a luxury anymore and unless urgent
measures are taken, it could disrupt the government’s favoured
development narrative as well. The deal that India pushes for in Paris
should be equitable as well as ambitious. There is no reason that
climate justice has to stand in the way of climate change mitigation.]


Why India must push for a climate deal that is both just and ambitious

Cracking down on climate change is not a luxury anymore.
Ipsita Chakravarty  · Yesterday · 12:30 pm

A sampler of the headbutting likely to take place at the United
Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris next week: US Secretary of
State John Kerry recently told the media that India was a “challenge”
to the climate regime taking shape because of its “restrained"
attitude to the “new paradigm”. No such thing, shot back India's Union
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. India was not a blocking
country and would do its fair share, but the developed world needed to
vacate “climate space” first.

Already, the conversation on global warming has fallen into
predictable oppositions: climate change mitigation versus climate
justice, the developed world versus the developing, richer countries
of the G20 versus poorer nations of the G77+China. In this round,
India has emerged as the prime crusader for climate justice, leading
the charge for the developing world. Its actions will set the tone for
the other developing countries of the G77, and the Global Solar
Alliance mooted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi could create a new
sphere of influence when it comes to negotiations.

But as it pushes for a more just process of negotiations and
regulatory framework, India must recognise the need to act quite
drastically against climate change. It’s not just a first world

Down with history

Kerry and his cohort have been sniffing righteously about an
“ambitious” climate deal in Paris and claim India could spoil the
party. There is of course this little detail: the international
community has not even been able to make good on previous,
less-ambitious climate deals and has long backed out of the
commitments made in the relatively modest Kyoto Protocol. Since the
Paris deal will not be legally binding either, there is no reason as
yet to believe it will fare any better than its predecessors.

There is another detail that developed countries seem to have skipped
and India has pointed out. An ambitious agenda for climate change, in
this case, means abandoning the principles of justice that have shaped
deals over the past two decades. The principle of common but
differentiated responsibility was evolved in the Rio conference of
1992 and endured through Kyoto 2005. It recognised that most of the
environmental degradation witnessed today has been caused by 150 years
of industrialisation. The older industrialised nations of the West
were more to blame, the common sense ran, and it was for them to clean
up their mess. Common but Differentiated Responsibility combined this
notion of historical responsibility with a country’s individual
capacity to act against climate change. Poorer, developing countries
which needed to grow fast to meet their domestic needs could not be
expected to prioritise climate change concerns, while richer countries
were able to bear the costs of mitigation.

The first United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which
came into being in 1994, had just 20 countries committing to emission
cuts. These countries, mostly rich, were also to help others in
meeting their climate change goals. Things started changing after the
Kyoto Protocol, which the US refused to ratify, insisting that global
warming could not be controlled unless China, Brazil and India, all
big ticket polluters, also agreed to cut emissions.

Rich nations' club

The first draft of the new UNFCCC seems to reverse the principles of
the older agreements and has upset Indian negotiators. It throws out
the notion of differentiated responsibility and stipulates heavy
emission cuts across the board. The projected cuts are likely to
affect developing countries disproportionately, costing them about
$790 billion a year. Yet the draft does not show a way to bridge these
inequities. It does not say how the developed world will fulfil its
responsibility to help poorer countries cope with the demands of the
new deal, both financially and through sharing clean technologies.
Indian negotiators have also claimed that the draft ignores the
suggestions made by developing countries, is inimical to domestic
interests and projects a consensus when there was none.

It is not just the contents of the draft agreement that are
problematic to India, it is also the decision making process.
Recently, India stalled an attempt by the G20 to “pre-decide” the
contours of the Paris deal in a pact outside the formal negotiation
process. All decisions, Indian negotiators insisted, should be taken
at Paris, where every participating country has an equal say.

It is difficult, at this juncture, to resist clichés about imperialism
and neocolonialism in describing both the draft and the preliminary
meetings. They reek of regressive “first world” bullying, of an
outdated attitude that assumes it is perfectly fine for a clique of
rich countries to take the moral high ground, decide what is best for
the international community and formulate a game plan that involves
minimum cost to themselves, or at least, to the US.

The Climate Action Tracker, for one, has rated India’s “Intended
Nationally Determined Contribution”, or proposed commitments to
mitigation, considerably higher than the US’s, just below the European
Union and China’s.

Climate change is here

In Paris, therefore, Indian negotiators will have to fight for a more
equitable agreement. But the politics of a climate change deal cannot
detract from the vital need to have an agreement with teeth.

***India will be one of the worst affected by rising global
temperatures. Extreme heat already kills hundreds in summer, the smog
over North India thickens with every winter and mortalities related to
air pollution have soared. Cycles of drought and flood have wreaked
havoc in the agricultural lands. In a hotter world, millions living in
the floodplains and coastal areas will be displaced.*** [Emphasis

The Indian establishment has traditionally regarded climate change a
secondary concern, to be postponed until more pressing problems of
growth and development were met. And in spite of its grandstanding
abroad, this government’s domestic record on environment does not
evince much confidence – in a rush to ease up regulatory bottlenecks,
it has cleared infrastructure projects indiscriminately and in a bid
to attract investors, it has diluted environmental safeguards. The
draft Environmental Laws (Amendment) Bill 2015 focuses on extracting
monetary penalties from polluters instead of making them clean up.

***But curbing climate change is not a luxury anymore and unless
urgent measures are taken, it could disrupt the government’s favoured
development narrative as well. The deal that India pushes for in Paris
should be equitable as well as ambitious. There is no reason that
climate justice has to stand in the way of climate change
mitigation.*** [Emphasis added.]

Why Modi is so desperate to own the Constitution, and Ambedkar by Panini Anand (|28 November 2015)


Why Modi is so desperate to own the Constitution, and Ambedkar

PANINI ANAND @paninianand |28 November 2015

Modi in House
Modi presented a softer side in Lok Sabha on Friday
Some called it a positive gesture, some called out the bluff

Calling the bluff
Modi's agenda: claim Ambedkar, blame Opposition and change Constitution
Opposition leaders Yechury, Azad, Sharad Yadav sent heavy stinkers

More in the story
Why is Modi not believable
What is the real RSS agenda

Poitical opportunism is like the colour of the sky: it changes
according to the time of the day, the season and other factors.

On Friday, 27 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in an unusual
avatar: he praised BR Ambedkar, quoting him on he and his ideology

He was speaking in Parliament, at the two-day special sitting that
started 26 November, designated by the Modi government as Constitution
Day. The session to discuss commitment to the Constitution was part of
the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of Ambedkar.

There are opposing interpretations of what Modi and others in his
government said at the session. Some think it is an inclusive gesture
and should be taken positively. Others disagree.

Opposition leaders see a conspiracy in the softness, in the
pro-Ambedkar attitude of the government.

They see an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to give itself a
role in the movement for independence; an attempt to claim Ambedkar
and his legacy and to provoke arguments around key elements of the
Constitution, igniting a public debate, pushing for amendments,

What did Modi say
Modi on Friday was soft and humble in the House. Unlike the Modi that
Parliament and people have seen since May 2014.

He was trying to be more friendly with the Opposition, which has
hardly let Parliament function in the Monsoon session. Most Bills
proposed by the government are pending. Especially, the Rajya Sabha
has repeatedly snubbed the arrogance and exclusiveness of the Treasury
Benches, who is in a minority there.

Read- Tactical change: the PM is more parliamentarian than ever before

But Modi had a more pressing need: to claim Ambedkar. He painted his
speech with colours that would assimilate in the portrait of the
leader who visioned the Constitution. The PM talked about diversity
and its beauty, saying one can't ignore the role of the leaders who
contributed to the making of the Constitution.

Also watch: PM Modi's remarks on commitment to India's Constitution

"Mujhe kshama karein, mein kisi ki alochana nahi kar raha. Lekin agar
Babasaheb nahi hote, to Samvidhan ek mahaan samajik dastavej banne se
chook jata. Yeh unka dard, unki peeda thi jiski wajah se yeh samvidhan
bana," Modi said.

(Excuse me, I am not criticising anybody. But, without Babasaheb
(Ambedkar), the Constitution wouldn't have been this great social
document. It was his pain, his plight, which made the Constitution.)

Modi praised Ambedkar - the "dalit maa ka beta" (the son of a Dalit
mother) - and quoted a Sanskrit shloka to describe him. There was no
response when he read it; the hindi translation earned some claps.

"If someone even thinks about changing the constitution, he is
actually attempting suicide," he said. "A majority doesn't mean
anything could be imposed on people."

And Modi brought in references: From Vajpayee to his own speeches to
social reformers such as Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ishwarchandra Bidyasagar
(calling him Vidyasagar Rao) and others.

The efforts were to showcase a more inclusive, tolerant and liberal
PM. To claim Ambedkar and be in his shoes.

Why is Modi doing this
"In 2009, we celebrated 60 years of Constitution in Gujarat. We placed
a big copy of the Constitution on an elephant," Modi said. This is not
the first time Modi and the school of thought he follows has tried to
bag Ambedkar.

There have been several attempts. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS)
has claimed several times that Ambedkar was happy with the
organisation's work.

Ambedkar, in fact, fought his entire life against the core merits of
Hinduism. In the end he accepted Buddhism along with his supporters.

The mantra of Madhukar 'Balasaheb' Deoras was social engineering,
focused on looping in more and more people. This was not possible
without bringing in the majority castes, which are Dalits and

This is the reason why Vallabhbhai Patel, who banned the RSS after
Gandhi's assassination, is now part of the RSS-BJP pantheon. The Sangh
Parivar now uses Patel on its prime posters to gain wider
acceptability. Not to forget, the giant statue of his that Modi has

Of late, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat has released several books where
writers from the Sangh stable have tried to re-write the Ambedkar
story in a light favouring their ideology. Expect more books on
Ambedkar and Gandhi, sources in the organisation said. Such efforts
have been accelerated in the Modi regime.

From Uttar Pradesh to Punjab and in many other states, Ambedkar could
give the BJP passage to Dalit votes.

What exposes Modi and the government
"It is an attempt (NDA's) to worm into the national movement where you
have no role," said Sitaram Yechury, who represents Communist Party of
India (Marxist) in the Upper House.

He and the leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad told the House that
the notification for the celebration was issued by the Ministry for
Social Justice on 19 November. "This is technically not possible as it
has to be done by the Home Ministry," said Azad.

Also watch: Sitaram Yechury's comments on commitment to India's constitution

They also produced orders issued by the education ministry on 10
November - a full nine days before the notification was issued -
regarding the celebration. "How come the orders came before the
notification. This is illegal and wrong way of doing things," the
Congress leader added.

Both Yechury and Azad pointed out that Ambedkar himself had said the
Constitution would be fully adopted on 26 January. That's the day
India celebrates Republic Day. Then why does the BJP wants to rewrite

"It is an event. You know event management and through it you want to
claim the space in the history where you didn't contribute," Yechury

Watch more: Gulam Nabi Azad's comments on the discussion on commitment
to India's constitution

The Opposition has reasons to doubt Modi and his government. The
opening speeches by Rajnath Singh in Lok Sabha and Arun Jaitley in
Rajya Sabha focused on the larger agenda of claiming Ambedkar and at
the same time, provoking a debate around the main elements of the

Ambedkar had not put the word 'secularism' in Constitution and now it
is the most misused word in India, Singh said. Jaitley talked about
clauses about equality and uniformity, elaborating how the period of
Emergency was biggest setback to the Constitution.

Also watch: Arun Jaitley initiating the discussion on commitment to
India's constitution

Yechury called it a pick-and-choose tactic, accusing the government
for playing with clauses of its choice according to convenience. Azad
called it divide-and-rule while Janata Dal (United)'s Sharad Yadav
said the country still awaits implementation of social justice and
dignity to the poor and marginalised, who form the majority.

Actually, speeches by BJP leaders had four key objectives:

claim Ambedkar
blame the Opposition
attempt a cocktail of Ambedkar and their ideology
open a passage to debate and amend/change the Constitution.
Modi's Idea of India and contradiction
The PM ended his speech by slogans: "The government has only one
religion - India First. The government has only one holy book - the
Constitution" and so on.

The problem with his speech and his 'idea of India' is rooted in his
personality, his party and its ideology.

modi hijacks ambedkar embed
Architects of communal violence have found place in his government. He
has preferred criminals and the corrupt over clean and committed
people. The PM is hardly democratic and not at all inclusive in his
style of governance.

The hate speeches in the Bihar election campaign and incidents such as
the ones in Dadri and Faridabad are completely opposite to what Modi
said in the House on Friday.

Ambedkar's idea about economic policies, foreign policy, federalism,
home affairs and the commitment to social inclusiveness are elements
missing from Modi's actions.

The way the minorities, the marginalised, academicians and the people
of arts, literature and sciences are suffering in this regime is
completely against Ambedkar's vision and idea. The problem of Modi is
that he can't control the core organisations of the ideology.

The pledge for Ram Mandir and commitment to the Constitution is like
mixing oil with water. It can't work. That's the fabric of the country
and Modi can't change it.

A senior parliamentarian warned: "Don't get confused with the makeup.
It won't last."

Saturday, November 28, 2015


Anthony De Mello, S.J., told about the following exchange between a student and his spiritual director:
Student: Is there anything I can do do make myself enlightened? 
Director: As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.
Student: Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?
Director: To make sure you are not sleeping when the sun begins to rise.
Advent comes to us when the nights are darker, the days are colder, and the earth is dormant. Most of us begin to yearn for the warmth and life that come in spring. Over time, the longer days come and the earth sprouts with new life. Christ too comes to satisfy the longings that arise in our darkness. He is "the tender mercy of the Father, the dawn that shall break upon us to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death. He is the one who will guide our feet into the way of peace." (Luke 1:78-79)
Are you awake as the sun begins to rise?



Our time to turn Laudato Si into action!
View this email in your browser

Dear Cedric,
Just hours ago, Cardinal Cláudio Hummes of Brazil presented over 800,000 of yourCatholic Climate Petition signatures to United Nations and French officials in Paris along with the petitions of other interfaith groups. Collectively the messages of over 1.7 million people of faith calling for climate justice were delivered from all over the world. 
During the event, Cardinal Hummes stated, “I pray for political leaders to “hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor” (Laudato Si # 49) and to respond to the climate justice demand from faith communities.”

Already Catholics have joined actions in Nairobi, Dhaka, Melbourne, Manila and other parts of the globe to voice their concern for our common home as part of theGlobal Climate March (see some pictures here!).  Thousands more of us will do the same in our communities today or tomorrow.
Will you be one of them?
If you haven’t done so already, check here for details on Catholics marching in your area (there have been updates, so double check for sure!). If you don’t see anyone listed, use the search button at the bottom of the march page to find a local event.
Check for an event near you
This is a new moment in history, as we Catholics are helping to shape the future of our climate in historic numbers. We bring a special contribution, along with other faith groups, of elevating the moral and spiritual dimension of this crisis. This is a question of living our faith to care for others, especially the poor and vulnerable among us.
Cardinal Hummes ended his speech today with, “Time is running out. Let’s pray and act for Climate Justice!
Yes, let’s heed his words and pray and act this weekend!
Thank you for turning Laudato Si’ into action,
Tomás on behalf of the GCCM team
P.S. If you take pictures or video, please share them with us here and share them on social media with the hashtag #climatemarch  and #LaudatoSiAction. You can already see some of the photos of Catholics marching at:
PPS. Following the tragic attacks on November 13, mass marches and demonstrations around Paris have been prohibited by the French authorities. Register here to dedicate your march for a Parisian unable to join in. It’s a beautiful act of solidarity.
Copyright © 2015 Global Catholic Climate Movement, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed the Catholic Climate Petition.

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Friday, November 27, 2015


For Favour of Publication

November 26, 2015; Constitution Day

This day is of special significance for us. After several birth pangs made more painful by vicious attacks of the state, the re-invented online version of Communalism Combat is before you, online on  Do have a look, visit us, send in your feedback. The special features include the ‘In Fact’ section that de-constructs propaganda and myths; Image stories from India’s best photographers as they offer us a worldview through their lens, investigation and opinions on issues that matter. A very special feature is the peace map that maps, at regular intervals, structural violence and conflict on

Our video interviews, started a year ago will also be featured regularly. Combat in collaboration with and have, over the past year, interviewed the finest Indian minds, be their academics or activist. Historian Romila Thapar’s interview has been viewed substantially and our inaugural edition comes to you with a vibrant conversation with Hindustani music composer and singer, Shubha Mudgal.

Through the mid 1980s until the early 1990s virulent rightwing majoritarian organisations built up the volatile communal climate which culminated in the demolition of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. This movement was speared by an aggressive politics that targeted India’s minorities, both physically and through a distorted public metaphor. The Shiv Sena-led anti-Muslim pogrom in Bombay (now Mumbai) was accompanied by widely sanctioned hate speech that in fact set standards of a new national norm.

In response to the concerted campaign to transform secular democratic India into a Hindu Rashtra, we the undersigned quit our jobs in the mainstream media to channelise our professional skills in fighting the cancer of divisive politics. The launch of a monthly journal, Communalism Combat in 1993 was an outcome of that effort.  

It was our conviction then, as it is now, that a free media cannot be value neutral. A free media is only conceivable in a society that values freedoms, can only flourish in a secular democratic environment. It follows that those with claims to being part of the free media must walk the talk. Far from being passive consumers, they must remain vigilant, passionate protectors and promoters of the fundamental freedoms and rights of all citizens guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. In that alone lies its own freedom.

From the very beginning and throughout its nearly 20-year long journey, Communalism Combat eschewed the he-said-she-said brand of ‘objective journalism’ and remained a ‘partisan’ journal. 

Partisan, in favour of principles and values enshrined in the Constitution of India and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948): secularism, democracy, non-discrimination and equal opportunities, equality before law and equal protection of law, freedom of speech and conscience, celebration of diversity and pluralism, communal harmony.

Partisan, opposed to the politics of prejudice, discrimination, hatred and violence, religious intolerance and extremism, divisiveness, communal discord. The journal did not oppose religion per se but the manipulation of religious sentiments for political ends. At the same time it maintained that religious beliefs and practices in conflict with ideals of fundamental freedoms and rights must be open to critical review and reform.

Never indulgent towards communalism of any hue, Communalism Combat campaigned against majority and minority communalism, caste and gender discrimination with equal fervor. In particular, it functioned as an ever-vigilant watchdog against spreading communal virus. While most of the mainline media in India was (and remains) content with episodic reportage, between 1997-98 and 2002, Communalism Combat published five cover stories and several special reports alerting society and state functionaries about the systematic build-up to the genocidal targeting of Gujarat’s Muslims in 2002.

Communalism Combat stood for and defended the rights of all religious minorities, including Kashmiri Pandits, whether in India or elsewhere in the sub-continent. Recognising that communalism is a malady afflicting all of South Asia, throughout its two-decade existence the journal frequently highlighted the plight of and atrocities against religious minorities – Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Ahmediayas – in neighbouring Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka. It was the first Indian publication to focus on the ominous rise of the Taliban in the 1990s. Hell on Earth was the cover story of the journal in November 1998, long before the Taliban had committed the sacriligeous act of destroying the Bamiyan Buddhas. By late 1998, it had made life a living hell for Afghan women.

Partisan though it unashamedly was defending certain core values and principles Communalism Combat maintained a high standard of professional integrity and journalistic ethics. A journal with limited circulation but wide reach, Communalism Combat gained national and international recognition and awards from the very first years of its publication. 

Financially, however, the journal lived precariously throughout. Committed to free and independent reportage and analysis, we had to stop publishing in late 2012.  We are re-launching now, redoubled in our efforts, committed to our credo: Hate hurts, Harmony works.

In the growing climate of intolerance, and worse, now prevailing in India a forum such as Communalism Combat is needed more than ever before. With the launch of two mutually complementary online platforms ( and on this Constitution Day, November 26, 2015 we are re-affirming our commitment to the pledge that ‘We, the People of India’, gave ourselves soon after gaining Independence from colonial rule.

The content we have to offer is serious but the effort is to make it viewer/reader friendly. For the endless hours over many months devoted to the design and development of the two platforms by an amazing array of IT professionals who volunteered their expertise, our grateful thanks. A vast band of supporters and volunteers have put in hours of hard work with creative inputs. Through a particularly difficult period for us, this show of whole-hearted support has been both rewarding and sustaining.

Our many thanks also to highly regarded columnists, writers and social activists who have so generously offered to contribute editorial content for on a regular basis. Apart from the many new elements being introduced by us, through this platform viewers will be able to access the content earlier published over nearly 20 years in the old issues of Communalism Combat.     

We count on your support and contributions to make this new venture viable.

Happy Constitution Day!

Teesta Setalvad              Javed Anand
Co-editor                        Co-editor

Friday, November 20, 2015


-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*

On September 27th 2011 Arun Ferreira was released from the Nagpur jail after being illegally incarcerated since May 2007 on charges of being a naxalite.  Just as he stepped out from the gates of the jail even as his aged parents and other family members waited outside the jail to welcome him back into their loving embrace, Arun was forcibly arrested once again and that too without a warrant.

The next day, on September 28th he was produced at the JMFC Court in Gadchiroli district, Maharashtra in a fabricated case of criminal conspiracy of 2007 despite the fact that the Trial Court had exonerated him of every single charge the previous day.  He continued to languish in jail till January 3rd 2012 when he was granted bail; only on January 29th 2014 was he finally acquitted of all the false cases which were foisted on him by the State and other vested interests.

Arun Ferreira is a saga in courage. An alumnus of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, he is basically a human rights defender, engaging in social and political activism. As a college student, he organised students to fight for their rights and against social atrocities.  He deeply involved himself in the ‘right-to-housing’ struggles of Mumbai slum dwellers and later on with the tribals and other marginalised communities in rural Maharashtra. For his commitment to the rights of the poor, he was picked up in 2007 and was falsely charged of being a naxalite. For nearly five years in jail after that - besides being charged with several crimes like criminal conspiracy, murder, possession of arms and rioting - he was tortured and suffered greatly from police brutality.

Arun was our guest at ‘PRASHANT’ on November 16th 2015, the day which is observed by the United Nations as ‘the International Day of Tolerance’. We had invited a select group of our collaborators and well-wishers to listen to his painful and traumatic experience in prison. Without rancour or anger, but in a way which touched the hearts of all present, he shared with those present the ordeal of being a prisoner in India today.

 His prison memoir entitled ‘Colours of the Cage’ contains a fair bit of what he went through in jail. On the cover page of the book is a note from well-known author and activist Arundhati Roy “Arun Ferreira gives us a clear-eyed, unsentimental account of custodial torture, years of imprisonment on false cases and the flagrant violation of procedure that passes as the Rule of Law. His experience is shared by tens of thousands of our fellow countrymen and women, most of whom do not have access to lawyers or legal aid. This country needs many more books like this one”.

During his conversation at ‘PRASHANT’, Arun highlighted the need and importance for civil society to work for prison reforms; the condition in the jail, he says, are abominable, inhuman with very archaic rules which govern them. Secondly, he asserted, that people should come out to fight draconian laws like the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 2004 which is draconian, violative of basic human rights and goes against the letter and spirit of the Constitution of India; such anti-people laws need to be abolished.

In the foreword to ‘Colours of the Cage’, Naresh Fernandes writes “Arun Ferreira reminds us that diversity of opinion and debate are essential for any society to flourish. The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to imprison our imagination”.

Today, Arun continues his activism as an advocate focussing on issue of political prisoners, prison reforms and on the state of Indian democracy. He is truly a prophet for our times: a saga in courage!

20th November, 2015

*(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 Saffron Hotel, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: (079) 27455913, 66522333   Fax:  (079) 27489018    Email:

Thursday, November 19, 2015


Let’s pray with our feet on November 29.
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 Dear Cedric,
The Catholic Climate Petition has over 500,000 petition signatures from over 140 countries!  
While our spirits are high with this accomplishment, our hearts are heavy with the recent attacks in Paris and Beirut.  We offer our prayers of healing and courage where there is grief and fear. And now it is time to stand behind our signatures with a renewed resolve to embrace fully God’s infinite love and mercy.
In 12 days, hundreds of thousands of families and people of all ages will be taking to the streets for the Global Climate March on November 29.
Help us get at least 100,000 Catholics to “pray with their feet” by joining this historic march.
We have put together a Global Climate March Toolkit with everything you need to reach out to your priest or fellow parishioners: posters, banners, talking points, sample letters, and more.
Then dedicate your efforts to mobilize for the Global Climate March to Christ when we make our 5th stop in this Month of Climate Action: Journeying with Laudato Si’ on Sunday, November 22 for the Feast of Christ the King.
Here is this week’s checklist:
▢ ACT: Promote the Global Climate March in your parish by asking your parish priest if you can post one of these posters on the church billboard and/or or make one of these announcements after mass. Invite 10 people to join you in the Global Climate March by sharing this video or one of these banners on social media or through email.
▢ REFLECT: This week we reflect on chapters 3 and 4 of Laudato Si’. The Franciscan resource we are using asks us to reflect on several questions including, “Pope Francis affirms that “intergenerational solidarity is not optional, but rather a basic question of justice”. What must be done to guarantee a better future for the generations to come?”
▢ PRAY: As we near the end of the liturgical season we reflect on the enduring power of Christ and His selfless love which we are all called to embody in our own actions. We pray for the people of Paris, Beirut, Kenya, Burundi and other places living in the aftermath of recent and ongoing waves of violence. With the recent attacks in Paris, we especially #Pray4cop21 that a strong climate agreement will still emerge in the upcoming negotiations.
Visit the Month of Climate Action website
Reflecting on the recent tragedies in Paris, Pope Francis shared  “Jesus’ triumph will be the triumph of the cross, the demonstration that the sacrifice of oneself out of love for one’s neighbor, in imitation of Christ, is the only victorious power and the only stable point in the midst of the upheavals and tragedies of the world.”  
It is love that will triumph over the sins of the world, from the violence committed in Paris to those being being perpetrated against our Mother Earth. May your participation in caring for our common home reflect how Christ’s power of love can transform this world.
Your companions on the journey,

Christina, Tomas, Mary, Janine, Igor, Fabian, Leila, Lou, Marie, and the rest of the GCCM team

P.S. Here is the beautiful timeline of our journey together:

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