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The imposing gothic structure of St Xavier's College, Kolkata standing with all its charm must have often impressed you as you zoomed down Park Street in your car.
But have you ever wondered if this was the original college that has catered to millions of students down generations? Well, in reality St. Xavier's College was established twice – 1835 to 1846 and 1860 to date.
The first one winded up after eleven years of its establishment in July 1835 by a group of English Jesuits on Portuguese Church Street. In January 1838, the college was shifted to a rented house on Park Street. From there, the college was once again transferred to another rented house on 28, Chowringhee Road (where Indian Museum stands now) in January 1841. Following a dispute with the local Church administration, the English Jesuits went back to their country in October 1846.
The present St. Xavier's College is the second one that was set up later in January 1860 by a group of Belgian Jesuits at the amalgamated 10 &11 Park Street (now 30 PS). After the death of Esther Leach, the "Queen of the Indian Stage" in 1843, the famous Sans Souci theatre was bought by the Bishop of Calcutta, Monsignor Joseph Carew and the Belgian Jesuits started the SXC in 1960 with 40 students under the leadership of Fr. Henry Depelchin.
Fr. Depelchin bought four Horse-drawn carts (as you in the picture) to transport students to the College.
We visited the Sribhumi Sporting Club Puja Pandal on Friday, October 23rd evening. The idols wore golden crown, golden chain and golden jewelry. The pandal looked like the famous Kedarnath temple. The organising committee had installed giant TV screens on roads to help people watch the decoration and the idol. The State Fire Minister, Sujit Bose, the livewire behind the puja organisation, received us and showed us around. May the Goddess bless all of us.
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata organised a two day Doctoral Colloquium on 3rd and 4th October 2020. The University is offering Ph.D. Programmes in disciplines of Commerce, English, Mass Communication, Economics and Management.
Rev. Dr. John Felix Raj, S.J., Honourable Vice-Chancellor, delivered the inaugural address and highlighted the need to undertake research journey with Xaverian ethos.
Dr. Niraj Kumar, Programme coordinator of the Doctoral Colloquium,stressed upon the need for researchers to focus on s-curve and H-index.
Dr. R S Shukla, IAS, Secretary, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Govt. of India and Dr. Anju Seth, Director, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, delivered the keynote addresses during the inaugural session.
Dr. Lynn Martin, Professor, Anglia Ruskin University, UK and Dr. Soumyen Sikdar, Professor, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, addressed the Ph.D. Scholars from India and abroad during the Valedictory Session.
The Doctoral Colloquium was designed to provide a supportive and constructive platform to the Ph.D. Scholars of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata and the Ph.D. Scholars of other Institutions of repute in India and abroad.
More than 50 Ph.D. Scholars, including presented papers in the Colloquium and interacted with peer knowledge communities across sectors and disciplines under the mentorship of Faculty and Technical Chair.
The Doctoral Colloquium was conducted on Microsoft Team virtual platform. The Inaugural and Valedictory Sessions were Live streamed on Facebook and YouTube.
Dr. Niraj Kumar
Coordinator, Ph.D. Programme
The Foundation Course on Religion offers to all UG students the academic exercise to broaden their knowledge and appreciation of religion as an essential dimension of human experience and life. The course is designed to enrich their perspective in the context of India’s civilizational heritage and to empower them for global citizenship.
An academic exposition to the world’s religions inculcates unique cultural sensitivities among students. It opens students’ mindsets and aptitudes to a multicultural and international way of being that transcends the boundaries of the conventional and the everyday life. Further, it enables students to equip themselves with critical thinking, communication competence, interpersonal awareness, and intercultural literacy and connectivity necessary for success in an ever evolving global society.
Hence, the academic objective of studying religion is to facilitate students to see and appreciate the goodness embedded in the beliefs of all people within their distinct religious heritages, whereas in the essentials they are interconnected that calls us to create a culture of harmony. For ‘Religion is the sum of the expansive impulse of a being’ – Henry H. Ellis
E-copies of the text book will be sent to all first year students of SXUK.
Susai awards were distributed on September 20 to six toppers in Class X and Class XII respectively at St. Michael’s High School, Sengudi. Mr. James David, Sr. Soumya and Mrs Jothi were present at the simple ceremony organised by the Sisters of the school.
The awardees were: 1. E. Selva, 2 S. Pavithra and 3. J. Jagan in Class XII.
In Class X, the awardees were: 1. S. Manimaran, 2. S. Monica and 3. M. Nithiswara Raghavan.
Fr. Felix Raj and Snegam Society congratulate all the toppers.
Istanbul, a religious trap: Christians need to offer a religious response that Turkey's president may not want to hear
Isabelle de Gaulmyn, France
The trap is obvious, let's try not to fall into it.This summer Turkish President RecepTayyip Erdogan carried out two religious provocations.
He affirmed his right to transform two architectural jewels of Istanbul -- Hagia Sophia and Holy Saviour-in-Chorainto -- into mosques "in the name of Islam".
Should we denounce this as a form of "cultural jihadism", to reproach Turkey's strongman for his aggression against the Christian world, or even for invoking the good old "clash of civilizations"?
Race for the religious trophy.
It is no doubt exactly what the present ruler of Turkey is looking for -- to engage in a very vain race for the religious trophy. One must be indignant, of course, at the brutality of the method.UNESCO, which just spent millions of euros to marvelously restore Holy Saviour, has the right to demand accountability.
But above all, let us not place ourselves on the level of religious identity.To assert, as some people do, that the two monuments have always been Christian churches, and as such cannot be transformed for another faith, is quite an historical absurdity. The same goes to those who claim the sacredness of the two buildings for Islam...Everyone knows that many early Christian monuments were built on pagan sites.
Hagia Sophia as well as Holy Saviourwere mosques for several centuries. To be drawn into the field of heritage claims, there is a good chance that we will find as many arguments on one side as on the other.DangerousnationalismShould we say nothing and just shrug our shoulders, without reacting to these provocations?
No. On the contrary, one can only be astonished at the lack of reaction from the international community to these attacks by the President of Turkey.But it is important to thwart the trap set by a regime where religion is placed under the close control of political power.Erdogan has no more religious motivation for Hagia Sophia than when he claims hydrocarbon reserves against Cyprus and Athens. His claims are purely political and dangerously nationalistic.This allows him to strengthen his declining popularity.
Above all, it allows him to asphyxiate the country's courageous democratic opposition, which gained control of Istanbul's city hall last year, by brutally depriving it of tourist resources.The calculation is quickly done: 4 million visitors per year, each paying an entrance fee of €20, for a monument that was previously managed by the municipality and which now falls into the hands of the Directorate of Religious Affairs...
Beauty, another name for God
Is there no room here for a religious response?Yes, but perhaps it is one Erdogan does not want to hear.It's the one that claims that the dialogue between religions will not break down over provocations of identity and politics.One that affirms that beauty, which we admire in Hagia Sophia and in Holy Saviour, is another name that believers give to God, whether they are Muslims or Christians -- a beauty on which they can come together and not be torn apart.
Like Pope Benedict XVI, who was slightly suspected of weakness in the face of Islam, and who, in 2006, in the same city of Istanbul, silently meditated for a moment in the marvelous Blue Mosque, before simply explaining that he had "turned to the one God, the merciful father of all humankind" to ask that "all his creatures be able to recognize themselves in him, and give witness to true brotherhood".
We would like the believers who now go to Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia to make this same request.
Isabelle de Gaulmyn is a senior editor at La Croix and a former Vatican correspondent.
1. September 10, 2020: Online Induction Programme for PG Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
2. September 12, 2020: Online Faculty Orientation Programme for Foundation Course from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
3. September 15, 2020: Online Induction Programme for UG Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
4. September 18, 2020: Online Induction Programme for XLS Students (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
5. October 3, 2020: Online Induction Programme for Ph.D. Scholars (Batch 2020 - 2021) from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
1. Projects Completed:
2. Project to be completed by 2025:
We express deep sadness over the death of former President Pranab Mukherjee on Monday August 31. Mukherjee passed away after he developed a lung infection at New Delhi’s Army’s Research and Referral hospital
He had also tested Covid-19 positive. His death “leaves a deep void in Indian politics.
We will miss him very much for his political statesmanship, moral integrity and for his fine oratorical skills.”
Mukherjee had visited SXC Kolkata thrice. I had the opportunity to meet him more than once at Raj Bhawan, Kolkata.A very fine gentleman.
“We mourn his loss and express our gratitude for all the support and encouragement he gave the Christian community and its activities. May the Almighty grant him eternal rest and comfort all his family members and those to whom he was dear.”
Mukherjee who was 84 at the time of his death served as the 13th President of India from 2012 to 2017.
He was awarded the Bharat Ratna (the Jewel of India), the country’s highest civilian honor in 2019 by his successor President Ram Nath Kovind.
In 2017, Mukherjee decided not to run for re-election and to retire from politics due to “health complications relating to old age.”
The Lord of the Drinks (LOTD) Restaurant at South City Mall organized a celebration for my birthday on August 30th noon. Mr & Mrs Bajorias were there with all the Fathers. The LOTD is an amazing place with a beautiful ambience and delicious food. Try it out. You won't regret it. The place is regularly sanitised to make it V-free.
Sr Bernadette Mary Reis, fsp
The Pope Francis signed his encyclical "Fratellitutti" (We are all “Brothers” and “Sisters”) on October 3, Saturday, in Assisi, an urgent call to follow the example of Jesus.
On the anniversary of St Francis of Assisi's death, Pope Francis celebrated Mass before the Saint's tomb and signedhis Encyclical.
The Encyclical on fraternity and social friendship was inspired by St Francis, as was the Pope’s second Encyclical, Laudatosi’, on the care of our common home, published five years ago.
The Pope traveled to Assisi by car. On the way, the Pope paid a visit to the Monastery of Vallegloria in Spello. Once he reached Assisi, the Pope paid a brief visit to the Protomonastery of Saint Clare and greeted the Poor Clare nuns.
Signing of the Encyclical
At the conclusion of Mass, Pope Francis invited Msgr Paolo Braida to bring the copies of the Encylical to be signed. He then explained that MsgrBraida handles the translations in the First Section of the Secretariat of State. "He oversees everything", the Pope continued. "This is why I wanted him to be present here, today, and that he should bring the Encyclical to me".
He also introduced two of the priests who also work in the First Section. Father Antonio translated the Encyclical into Portuguese from the original Spanish. Father Cruz oversaw all of the translations from the original Spanish.
"I am doing this as a sign of gratitude to the entire First Section of the Secretariat of State who worked on the translations".
At the end of Mass, Pope Francis briefly visited the Franciscan community in the SacroConvento monastery attached to the Basilica.
"'Brother' and 'sister' are words that Christianity really loves," said Pope Francis back in February 2015 during one of his weekly general audiences at the Vatican.
"And, thanks to the family experience, they are words that all cultures and all times comprehend," he added.
Solidarity is inscribed at the heart of our common humanity. But is it so obvious?From the very first pages of the Bible, reality strikes us in the face: to be close to others is to experience the violence of Cain, the greed of Jacob, the jealousy of Joseph's brothers...
"You can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family."
Fr. J. Felix Raj, SJ
August 26 2020 is Mother’s 110th Birth Anniversary. I am fortunate and blessed to share my birthday with her and with Archbishop Thomas D’Souza of Kolkata. Mother’s favorite words have always inspired me: “The fruit of silence is prayer; the fruit of prayer is faith; the fruit of faith is love; the fruit of love is service and the fruit of service is peace.”
In August 1990, I planned an article on ‘Jesuit Influence on Mother Teresa’, and I dropped in to meet her not knowing that she was in Retreat. She did see me. While I apologized for disturbing her, she just smiled and said, “I will always have time for Jesuits.”
When she heard that I was from St. Xavier’s, she conversed with enthusiasm and advised me, “Being a priest is not enough, being a good priest is important…. The Jesuit vocation is very special. You are called to a great and cosmic spirituality. You are called to aim at nothing less than St. Francis Xavier….” Mother was a woman who spoke with authority and gentle yet firm conviction
It is said, ‘every beginning has an end and every end has a new beginning’. Mother is not dead; such a life cannot have a conclusion. She bridged the gap between life and death like Jesus Christ and her legacy continues to live in the hearts of her sisters and followers like me.
Mother Teresa had habitually preferred Jesuits as Retreat Preachers, spiritual directors and confessors for herself and her Sisters. Many Jesuits of Calcutta Province, including Cardinal Trevor L. Picachy and Fr. Camille Bouche, were in close contact with her.
Fr. Celest Van Exem was the earliest main adviser and supporter to Mother Teresa and for the foundations of the Missionaries of Charity, since her days as Loreto Sister. He was the spiritual director to whom Mother Teresa confided her inspiration and who first sought to discern the authenticity of her experiences. He was the first to support Mother in requesting Archbishop Perier to begin the process for her to leave the Loreto Congregation. He made major contributions to the writing of the Constitutions of the Missionaries of Charity.
A less known fact in her life is that as the Missionaries of Charity flourished and gradually gained the attention of the world at large, Teresa progressed from confessor to confessor the way some patients move through their psychoanalysts. Fr. Van Exem gave way to Archbishop Périer, who gave way in 1959 to Cardinal Lawrence Picachy, who was succeeded by the Fr. Joseph Neuner in 1961.
By the 1980s the chain included figures such as Bishop William Curlin of Charlotte, N.C. For these confessors, she developed a kind of shorthand of pain, referring almost casually to "my darkness" or spiritual dryness and to God as "the Absent One." There was one respite. In October1958, she rejoiced, because "the long darkness or absence of God…… That strange suffering of 10 years." disappeared. She was confirmed that God ordained her Society, the Missionaries of Charity.
The author is Vice-Chancellor of St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
Beautiful view of the water jet fountain with Indian colours- at Jet d'Eau Fountain Geneva Lake. Photo taken three years ago by Fr. Felix Raj.
Francis Sunil Rosario
Leaders in the Church are those who have responsibility of priesthood or apostolic mission. Jesus demands, from his church leadership through service. “The greatest among you must be the servant of all” (Mt 23: 11). Church leaders are servants of God doing only God’s work, not their own because, unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain. Authority in the Church is service. The call to leadership through service is not addressed only to the clergy and to those who hold apostolic office, however the role of laity is equally important in the Church. The very motto of a Christian should be “I serve”.
Pope Francis in a meeting with Asian bishops fromChina, North Korea, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Brunei said that Church leadership should be free from politics. He labeled the four main challenges to the Church in Asia: individualism, superficiality, easy answers and a lack of empathy. “On this vast continent which is home to a great variety of cultures, the Church is called to be versatile and creative in her witness to the Gospel through dialogue and openness to all. Dialogue, in fact, is an essential part of the mission of the Church in Asia,” he said.
In his milestone encyclical, “FratelliTutti” (Oct. 4) recently published speaks on the role of religion and the need for dialogue among religions and all people of good will. F T says, "we, the believers of the different religions, know that our witness to God benefits our societies". The Pope considers interreligious dialogue as a way to bring "friendship, peace and harmony". Pope Francis adds: "All of us have a responsibility for the wounded" and "We should not expect everything from those who govern us…………..we have the space we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting into place new processes and changes.” The Pope also urges people to "be Good Samaritans who bear the pain of other people's troubles rather than fomenting greater hatred and resentment. In other words, Pope Francis is truly exercising his ‘Servant Leadership’ and showing the way to Jesus’ type of leadership, “To serve and not to be served.”
Servant Leadership is exercising real, godly leadership, as Christ did when He used a towel, and influencing, equipping, and empowering people to accomplish God's purpose and plan. It is serving others unselfishly while influencing and empowering them to grow in a Christ-directed, purposeful direction. This was an uncommon trait in Jesus’ time, just as it is in ours; do not let it be uncommon for you! Being a leader in the church, or in the home, is never a force of personality; it is earning that respect because you love and care (1 Kings 3:9; Luke 22:25-28; Matthew 25:21; Mark 9:33-37; John 5:19; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-5; 2 Timothy 2:24; Hebrews 13:17)
Today’s Bible readings present constructive critique on priests – their sermons, ministry and leadership - is as wholesome in a parish as fraternal correction.
All the three readings of today are to discover inner meaning. Malachi’s opening words are right to the point: “You do not lay it to heart,” “You show partiality in your decisions and break faith with each other.”
Malachi shows the high estate from which priests as well as people had fallen. The priests, who were supposed to be leaders of their people, were offering sacrifices in the Jerusalem Temple of sick and worthless animals, seeking favor with the rich and powerful, and showing partiality in decisions. Worse, they were deficient in the very areas where they should have been specialists. The people were giving God only lip service. Malachi provides a reminder that all too often everyone can lapse into a thoughtless, rote religion void of heartfelt enthusiasm.
St. Paul letter to the Thessalonians mentions his gentle attitude and describes the gospel as “God’s good tiding.” It is interiorly “at work within you who believe.” Paul despite the slander and calumnies against him correctly put his power to the loving and humble service of Jesus. Paul highlights the presence of Jesus within each disciple. Paul’s speech became a bridge between his own interior faith and the interior faith of the Thessalonians “who believed.”
Gospel Mt. 23: 1-12 (The virtue of humility) After the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.)a bitterhostilityhad developed between Judaism and Palestinian Christianity. Indeed, Jesus had opposed the legalism of the Pharisees (30th Sunday), but Mathew, himself involved in the struggle between his Church and the Jewish rabbis, magnifies out of all proportion and element that was present in Jesus’ teaching. This shows the human factor already at work in the early church. Priests should heed the lesson. They are rabbis (teachers) and fathers only in relation to God (Jesus does not dictate a vocabulary; he demands the right spirit!). And God’s people could heed the message as explained in the Theme. “Do not call anyone father or mother, teacher or rabbi. The greatest should be the one who serves the rest. Whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”
The attitude of leaders seeking titles, honours, and power did not begin or end with the Pharisees. The last of the prophets, an anonymous writer who used the name Malachi, which means “God’s messenger”, in about 440 B.C. made observations on the sins of the priests similar to those in Mathew’s Gospel. After the Exile, awareness that obedience to the Law had preserved the identity of the people now led to over –rigorous exaltation of the Law, which in turn led to the abuse of religious power.
Power tends to corrupt, absolute power to corrupt absolutely. After all, an antithesis of love is not necessarily hatred, as most people might say: nor indifference, as the more sophisticated might think: but unfettered human power. Some of the Pharisees used their power wrongly, going so far as to take upon themselves titles which belong only to God.
Pope’s EvangeliiGaudium, Laudato Si’, FratelliTutti — a triptych - The three great encyclicals and Apostolic Exhortation of Pope Francis complement one another. EvangeliiGaudium prays for reconciliation with God. Laudatosi’ is a cry from the heart that calls for reconciliation with creation. Fratellitutti pleads for reconciliation, dialogue and solidarity among all humanity as sisters and brothers. Pope Francis wants us to be aware that God’s presence permeates the world, inspiring persons of all cultures and religions to promote reconciliation and peace. As servants of Christ’s mission today, we are invited to assist him as he sets right our relationships with God, with creation and with other human beings.
Service to God’s people is expected from the Bishops, priests and leaders of the Church. “Servant leadership” is expected of the clergy in their sacramental ministration and teaching of the gospel. The best soil for the growth of Christian leadership and virtue is humble service and detachment: detachment from not only things, but from praise and prestige. In the humble Christ – poor, shunned, and oppressed – is where the growth of virtue always finds a home.
When Marion Hill Preminger, an internationally known actress and hostess, was asked why she suddenly gave up all to work with Albert Scheweitzer in the steaming equatorial jungles, she replied: Dr. Schweitzer says that there are two classes of people – the helpers and non-helpers. I want to be a helper.’ Lets us each find out where we can render a service and render it with all our heart.
The Lesson of a lifetime
A monk was dispatched from one monastery to another as abbot. When the unknown abbot quietly arrived at his new destination unannounced, the holy monks checked out his humble person and unimpressive demeanor. They immediately sent him to work in their kitchen at the most menial tasks. Uncomplainingly, their new abbot spent long hours scouring pots, washing floors, and shelling beans. Finally, the bishop of the diocese arrived at the monastery. When he could not find the long overdue abbot, he went on a search. Of course, he found him in the kitchen, preparing the night’s supper. When he officially presented him to the monks in their chapel, they received a lesson in humility, which would last them a lifetime. William Barclay
By Tapati Chowdurie
Nothing in this world happens without the will of the Divine. It was therefore ordained that I would one day land up in the historical institution St. Xavier’s Collegiate School at 30, Park Street, built on the ashes of San Souci Theatre in 1860, which now stands tall as an institution of eminence in the world.
My first interaction with the Jesuits was with Rev.Fr. Andre Bruylants, Principal, St. Xavier’s Collegiate School, who appointed me to teach the boys. He was a visionary and a leading educationist—a gentleman turning out “men for others”. His persona awed me. Whenever I walked into the staff room early, I found him cleaning and dusting it, while also happily polishing clean the teachers’ washbasin. That I thought was the Jesuit spirit of simplicity.
He was instrumental in shaping boys to be CEOs; administrators; industrialists and what not; the reward, which he got in return, was happiness. The school did not lack helpers, but that did not deter him from practising the true spirit of sacrifice in a contented frame of mind. At teachers’meetings, he was one of us and not the stern head, doling out strict commands. Jesuit fathers are leaders and they do know when to pass an opinion and judgement in favour of the boys they handle.
I had a glimpse of this Jesuit spirit several times. One particular incident that comes to my mind is when Fr. Fohshow was presiding over a promotion meeting, where a particular boy had flunked in all the subjects and repeating class 11 was inevitable. Father astonished everyone. He lifted both his hands heavenward and said, “Then we promote him.” This was an eye-opener for me. Without mincing words, the vision of the Head Master allowed the boy to finish school rather than make him struggle, because only a miniscule number of boys fail to clear ISC.
Jesuits take the vow of poverty seriously. They are the wealthiest in their spirit and do not believe in gaining this world and losing the next. I have seen Fr. Fohshow stand before a cobbler to repair his worn out shoes in the corridors of the fathers’ quarters.
I owe Fr. Jerome and Fr. Felix Raj for standing by me and extending their help to me in my most difficult hour with smiling faces.Fr. Felix Raj, under whom I served as a teacher teaching English to the B.Com boys is no less a far-sighted educationist, who made a novice like me handling young men feel comfortable with my job. His help was invaluable.
On the Feast Day of Ignatius of Loyola,one of the most influential figures of the Roman Catholic counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century and the founding member of the Society of Jesus has oddly enough given me a reason to love my faith I was born into. Like Ignatius Loyola, I would want to appreciate the essence of what a religion truly means. The Jesuit spirit means a lot to me. I would have been a deprived person without this exposure of the Jesuits in modern times.
Tapati Chowdurie is former teacher of English at St. Xavier’s Collegiate School and College, Kolkata.
COVID-19 Effect (As of July 17, 2020, 10.00 am)
|Country||Total Affected (%)||Deaths (%)|
|World||1, 39, 47, 474 (100)||5, 92, 687 (100)|
|USA||36, 16, 747 (26.42)||1, 40, 140 (23.88)|
|India||10, 05, 637 (7.09)||25, 609 (4.25)|
Source: Data from COVIDVISUALIZER.COM.
Of the globally affected cases, In India, the total number of COVID cases was 17, 306 (0.63 %) on April 25 and 2, 87, 155 (3.85%) on June 11. Now as of July 16, the figure is 9, 70, 169 (7.09%) of the total cases in the world. Of the deceased cases, the number was 721 (0.38%) on April 25 and 8, 107 (1.94%) on June 11 and now on July 16, it is 24, 929 (4.25%).
The global increase of affected cases from April 25 to July 16 has been 402 % and of the deaths 207 %. In India, the increase in number of affected cases from June 11 to July 16 has been very steep, from 2, 87, 155 to 9, and 9, 70,169, a 237.8% increase. The cases of deaths have creased from 8,107 to 24, 929, a 307 % jump.
The death rate in India is 2.57% in July.
The Elderly Population AmidCOVID-19 in India Forgotten People?
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 all-round the globe has created an unrest situation. India is no exception. People of all age groups have been affected both monetarily and psychologically,but for the elderly the agony has been manifold. Besides the psychological pressure of having to survive on a fixed income, the fear and anxiety of getting affected with COVID-19 has added to the woes.
Every day while turning the pages of the newspapers or flipping through the news channels we get to see many such instances where the problems faced by the elderly gethighlighted and reported as breaking news. But little is done to help them out. Delving deep, one must understand the problems they faced and (or) are facing amid the pandemic.
As soon as the lockdown was declared many migrant workers lost their jobs immediately and were stuck in the cities —a question of life vs. livelihood arose as the possibility of layoff still looms large. Losing their livelihood intrigued the fear of dying out of hunger. Their elderly parents and family members dependent on them are suffering on account of the lack of monetary help they used to receive from their wards as many of these migrant labourers are now jobless.
For some of the elderly who have tried to sustain as farm labourers are also facing problems as the harvesting season has come to an end and many had to destroy their harvests due to supply chain issues and lack of demand. On top of it, as Prof. Parikshit Ghosh from Delhi School of Economics has rightly pointed out that the rural section cutting across states have experienced additional hurdles in the process of receiving free food grains (announced at both the center and the state level) primarily because of corrupt practices of hoarding, not having a valid ration card and not being a beneficiary under any of the welfare schemes likePM-KISAN (Pradhan MantriKisanSamman Nidhi), MGNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme).
Moving on to urban India,the elderly who are staying alone have also faced problems in other dimensions. Few days into the lockdown, one of India’s largest pharmacy retail chains, Frank Ross declared“no home delivery” of medicines due to lack of manpower. This was a body blow to the elderly people, especially, for the oneswho arestaying alone and not well acquainted with online transactions. The sudden price hike, after cyclone “Amphan”, in essential commodities, including, fish, meat and vegetables added to the woes of this fixed income group. The elderly community staying in the cities areby and large dependent on domestic helps. But these services also got disrupted due to thenationwide lockdown. The morning or evening walks which were a source of socialisation and part of a regular fitness schedule for the elderly community got ceased given the social distancing norms, leading to anxiety and over-medication.
People suffering from dementia or the ones who are staying alone, especially, in the urban areas, some became a victim of loneliness resulting into severe depressionduring the lockdown period. From our experience in Kolkata, there was anotherapprehension. West Bengal got hit by cyclone “Amphan” on May 20, leading to disruption in network issues, particularly, all over the city of Kolkata. This aggravated the panic for the elderly staying alone as networks/communication means took time to stabilize.For some of the elderly in the affected pockets, going without water and power for a few days following “Amphan” added to the agony, in addition to the fear and anxiety of getting affected with COVID-19 which continues its rapid spread.
For the benefit of the elderly, the central government extended the validity of the Pradhan MantriVayaVandanaYojana (PMVVY) pension scheme till March 31, 2023 with an annual return of 7.40%, but unfortunately a major section of the society doesn’t benefit out of it as very few in the rural area would have a minimum investment capacity of roughly INR 1,60,000 p.a. Keeping in mind the poor senior citizens, the Central Government increased the pension amount to INR 300 per month for the widows in the age group of 40-79 years and INR 500 forthose aged 80 years and above, a move in the right direction.
Contrary to this, there has been a significant reduction in the interest rates across all the major saving schemes — Senior Citizen Savings Scheme from 8.6% to 7.4%, in National Savings Certificate from 7.9% to 6.8%, from 7.7% to 6.7% in five year time deposits, including for banks like State Bank of India,to name a few. This gave a body blow to the aspirations of this fixed income group. Also, a small part of the elderly community runs their livelihood from ancestral business;owing to this long lockdown, their business had to be called off and they ran out of money within a month of severe lockdown.As psychologists have pointed out, a section of elderly parents dependent on their wards suffer from an added insecurity that their wards might suffer a pay cut or might get terminated from their job amid the pandemic.
Role of the Society
This is a community which heavily relies on social connection and they need it more than others now. Apart from the government initiatives of going in for regular tests for the elderly population, particularly, in the containment zones, it is the youth of the country who have to come forward — in terms of regular checking on what the elderly community, especially the ones staying alone, inone’s locality or area require by dropping a message or over a phone call, helping them in buying their essentials, groceries and medicinesgiven that it is not wise for these elderly people to come out of their houses now. With the online medium all set to become the new normal in the post-COVID era, it is essential for the octogenarians to become habituated to the use of laptops and smartphones. But all said and done, the question still remains as to how effective these app-based online meansare for the elderly population of rural India? In such cases, I feel that reaching out through the locally empowered NGOscan be very helpful. In terms of awareness, as responsible citizens we must reach out to the elderly community and explainthem the basic need for practicing social distancing and the art of maintaining proper hygiene amid the pandemic. In no way, should they be allowed to feel as “forgotten extreme” and as responsible citizens it is our duty to ensure it.
Prof. Sovik Mukherjee teaches at St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata
St Xavier’s University, Kolkata has decided to offer a 20 per cent concession on semester fees for all undergraduate and postgraduate courses for the current semester, July to December 2020, Vice-Chancellor, Father Felix Raj said on Saturday, July 11.
University has decided to allow students to pay the sum in two installments. Students using the university hostels will pay less for the months they don’t stay in the hostels.
The vice-chancellor said the university decided to reduce the fees for the July-December semester to offer some relief to guardians who are going through financial problems because of the COVID lockdown.
“The decision has been taken with a humanitarian approach…. We believe in helping our students. But we also have to think about the problems of our guardians…. The Covid-19 and the lockdowns have created an unprecedented situation. Many people are going through a very difficult situation…. We have decided to reduce the semester and hostel fees to give some relief to our guardians,” Father Felix Raj said.
In addition to reducing the semester fees by 20 per cent, the university will allow students to pay the semester fees in two installments. The last date to clear the second installment for all students, including old and new students, is December 15.
The last date to clear the first installment for intermediate semester students is August 31. New students will have to pay the first installment as per notification regarding admissions.In the normal situation students are required to pay the entire semester fees at the start of the semester unless excused for valid reason.
The waiver in the semester and hostel fees will be offered to existing students as well as to new students. Set up in 2017, the Jesuit-run University offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses and runs a business school and a law school.The relaxation in the fees will apply to all students.
The vice-chancellor said the hostel fees for the current semester (July to December) will be reduced by Rs 5,000 a month.Normally, students have to pay the full hostel fees semester-wise at the time of admission.
West Bengal: Acknowledging the efforts, dedication and constant service of the doctors, nurses, paramedical staff, and other frontline workers in handling the COVID pandemic all over the country, the West Bengal State government has decided to declare July 1st, the national doctor's day as the State holiday.
We salute our doctors, nurses and all Health Care Heroes. They are our guardian angels protecting us from all dangers and diseases. We thank them and pray for them. Our wishes are always with them.
"It takes courage to answer a call, It takes courage to give your all, It takes courage to risk your name, It takes courage to be true. It takes courage to dare, what no other will share, To be standing alone, one whom no one will own, To be ready to stake for another man's sake, It takes courage to be true."
Reaching out to the underprivileged: Educational Institutions are the temples of knowledge and villages are the temples of prosperity. Their pairing is the beginning of a mutual revolution. Some glimpses of pairing to form future leaders among the underprivileged in South 24 Parganas, New Town and Trichy.
George Floyd's Daughter, Gianna, 6, Says 'Daddy Changed the World'.
The touching moment came after Gianna and her mother Roxie Washington spoke at a press conference on Tuesday, eight days after George Floyd's killing.
ISIAH WHITLOCK JR.: I ‘HOPE AND PRAY’ THE GEORGE FLOYD PROTESTS LEAD TO ‘FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE’
George Floyd's young daughter spoke with pride about her late father as protests over his killing at the hands of police continued.
Retired NBA player Stephen Jackson, a longtime friend of Floyd's, shared a clip of himself with Floyd's 6-year-old daughter Gianna on his shoulders. In the clip, the child smiled as she exclaimed, "Daddy changed the world!"
"That’s right GiGi 'Daddy changed the world' George Floyd, the name of change. George Floyd, 46, was killed while being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer. Washington mourned that Gianna "Gigi" Floyd will now have to grow up without a dad.
"I don't have a lot to say, because I can't get my words together right now," Floyd’s wife Washington said. "But I want everybody to know that this is what those officers took. At the end of the day, they get to go home and be with their families."
She continued: "Gianna does not have a father. He will never see her grow up, graduate; he will never walk her down the aisle."
"If there's a problem she's having and she needs her dad, she does not have that anymore," Washington added. "I'm here for my baby, and I'm here for George because I want justice for him. I want justice for him,because he was good. No matter what anybody thinks, he was good." "And this is the proof that he was a good man," Washington said, gesturing to Gianna.
We express our solidarity and demand justice for George Floyd. We stand with his wife and daughter. Black Lives Matter.
“We are born in an unjust society and we are determined not to leave it as we have found it.”
Top Jesuit and other Christian Colleges have featured in the NIRF rankings this year. Two Jesuit Colleges, namely Loyola College Chennai and St. Xavier’s College Kolkata have captured the 6th and 7th ranks respectively and figure among the 10 best Colleges in India.
According to the NIRF list, there are 34 Christian Colleges including 8 Jesuit Colleges among 100 best colleges in India. MHRD, GoI has announced the NIRF Rankings 2020 for all higher educational institutions on June 11.
The National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF) was approved by the MHRD and launched on 29th September 2015. This framework outlines a methodology to rank institutions of higher education across the country. The methodology draws from the overall recommendations and broad understanding arrived at by a Core Committee set up by MHRD, to identify the broad parameters for ranking various universities and institutions. The first NIRF list was released in 2016. For the 2020 rankings, around 3,800 institutions participated in the process, which was 20 percent more than in 2019. There were 10 categories which included: Overall, Universities, Engineering, Colleges, Management, Pharmacy, Medical, Architecture, Law and Dental Institutes.
The parameters broadly cover 1. Teaching, Learning and Resources, 2. Research and Professional Practices, 3. Graduation Outcomes, 4.Outreach and Inclusivity, and 5.Perception.
Dr. J. Felix Raj
RANK (Out of 100):
6 th - Loyola College Chennai (Score: 68.03).
7 th - St. Xavier's College Calcutta (67.59).
31 st - St. Joseph's College Trichy (58.27).
36 th - Andra Loyola college, Vijayawada (57.64)
50 th - St. Xavier's College Palayamkottai (54.91)
59 th - St. Xavier's College Ahmedabad (53.93)
72 nd - St. Joseph's College of Commerce, Bangalore (52.37)
90 th - St. Xavier's College Mumbai (51.14)
Congratulations to all the eight Colleges. We are proud of you.
St. Xavier's University, Kolkata has drawn up a comprehensive plan and guidelines for faculty and students to return to campus as per the UGC guidelines. It has decided to commence the first year UG and PG programmes from September 1.
In the new session, "both for freshers and the intermediate semester students, each class will be divided into two batches of 25 to 30 students who will attend classes on alternate days. Students will be taught online on the days they are away from campus. Thus, no syllabus will be missed," said Fr. Felix Raj, Vice- Chancellor of the University. He added that only one student will be allowed to sit in one bench. In the first semester, the university is planning to hold 25- - 30 per cent of its teaching-learning online.
For new session, the university will start accepting online applications immediately after the +2 results, sometime early August. "We have the responsibility of addressing the issue of anxiety and uncertainty among students and their parents. Thus, we plan to hold the terminal semester examinations in June, intermediate semester examinations in August and resume classes as early as possible," Father Raj said.
"End-semester students don't need to return to the university. Adhering to the UGC recommendations, their remaining examinations will be conducted online and the final results will be announced on July 10.
The University will conduct admission tests for all PG courses and two UG courses including Law. The admission test for Law, XLAT will be held on July 26, Sunday. The admission tests will be conducted for one subject at a time.
"The protection of our students, staff and faculty is particularly important for us. The SXUK is taking all precautions and necessary measures to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19," Fr. Raj added.
Curtesy: Somdatta Basu, the Times of India: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/st-xaviers-univ-to-resume-on-sept-1/articleshow/76185370.cms
i) Dr. Kalam never accepted gifts. Once he had gone Erode to attend a function sponsored by Sowbhagya wet grinders. On that occasion, they gave him a grinder as a gift. He refused to accept it but since he needed it he insisted on paying for it. He then sent a person to the shop with a cheque for Rs 4,850 dated August 25, 2014.
The Managing Director of the company was reluctant to receive money from Kalam and did not encash the cheque for over a month. A month later, they received a call from Kalam's office asking why the cheque has not been deposited. Further, Kalam directed them to deposit the cheque to avoid returning the grinder. The company agreed to deposit it. But they did not want to let go of the treasure and decided to keep a copy of the cheque. They got it scanned and had framed it. The very next day they deposited the cheque and received a message from Kalam's office thanking them for doing so. (Source: newindianexpress.com).
ii) Once, the missile man rejected the suggestion to put broken glass on the wall of a building that needed protection because broken glass could be harmful to birds!
This happened when Dr Kalam was with the Defence Research and Development organization (DRDO) and his team was discussing options to secure the perimeter of a building that needed protection. Dr Kalam reportedly said: "If we do that, birds will not be able to perch on the wall. Think of something else. "
iii) He invited a cobbler and a small hotel owner as the "Presidential Guests" As the President, Dr. Kalam was entitled to invite any two people as the "Presidential Guests" to the Raj Bhavan of Kerala during his first visit to Trivandrum. He had spent a significant amount of time as a scientist in Trivandrum and guess who he called? A roadside cobbler who was quite close to Dr. Kalam during his time in Kerala; and an owner of a very small hotel where Dr. Kalam used to have his meals.
This gesture was more than enough to show his level of simplicity!
iv) When a teammate of President Kalam at DRDO couldn't take his children to an exhibition due to workload, Kalam surprised him and took the children instead!
During a significant project, the workload was high. One of the 70 scientists working on it asked him if he could leave at 5.30 pm that evening as he had promised to take his kids to an exhibition. Dr Kalam granted the permission. However, the scientist got busy with work only to realise that it was 8.30 pm. When he looked for his boss, he wasn't there. Guilty for having disappointed his kids, he went back home only to find that his kids weren't there. When he asked his wife where they were, she replied, "You don't know. Your manager came here at 5.15 pm and took the children to the exhibition."
Dr Kalam had been observing the scientist and he realized that he was too busy with the work and might forget to reach home at time. So, he decided to take the kids to the exhibition instead.
v) The property left behind by Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam was estimated. This is what he owned:
6 pants(2 DRDO uniforms)
4 shirts(2 DRDO uniforms)
3 suits (1 western, 2 Indian)
1 flat (which he has donated)
1 Bharat Ratna
1 twitter account
1 email id
He didn't have any TV, AC, car, jewellery, shares, land or bank balance.
He had even donated the last 8 years' pension towards the development of his village.
He was a real patriot and true Indian. India will forever be grateful to this noble soul.
Monstrous Cyclone Amphan slammed into Kolkata and has wreaked havoc.
At SXUK, all of us – Fathers, Sisters and the 15 hostel students are safe.
Amphan roared and whistled and threatened to blow us up.
Many trees and plants have been uprooted.
The Green environment has been destroyed.
The campus will be ready and lovely, by the time students return after lockdown.
Pope Francis has nominated Bishop Shyamal Bose, to the pastoral government of the Diocese of Baruipur, Bengal in India. He succeeds Bishop Salvadore Lobo, whose resignation was accepted by the Holy Father. Bishop Shymal Bose was, until now, Coadjutor Bishop of Baruipur.
Bishop Bose Shyamal Bose was born on March 24, 1961, in Gosaba. He studied philosophy at Morning Star Regional Seminary, Barrackpore and theology at St. Albert's College, Ranchi. He was ordained a priest for the Baruipur Diocese on 5 May 1991.
As a priest of Baruipur, he served the Diocese in various capacities: assistant parish priest, Keorapukur (1991-1994); Khari (1994-1996) and Parish Priest, Khari (1996-1998). He was the director of Palli Unnayan Samiti, the Diocesan Social Service Centre for eight years from 1998 -2006. He was the Vicar General of the Diocese from 2000-2008. He was parish priest of Sacred Heart Church, Thakurpukur from 2006-2008. He obtained Licentiate in Biblical Theology from St. Peter's Pontifical Institute, Bangalore in 2010.
He was appointed director of the Regional Social Centre, Association of Bengal Collaborators for Development in 2011. At the time of his appointment announced on May 17, 2019 as the Coadjutor Bishop of Baruipur he was the Diocese's financial administrator, Chancellor and Secretary of the Finance Committee.
We wish him all the best and continue to pray for him.
Liquor Shops reopen in India. Alcohol sale has begun and people crowd outside liquor stores. Indian people are for liquor while Indian Governments are for revenue.
It is a mockery of social distancing in many parts of India. Mad rush for liquor raises corona alarm.Thousands in serpentine queues jostled for alcohol, triggering chaos, police action, and fear of Covid-19 spread as booze shops opened after 40 days in some areas. As these shops opened, people formed a long queue, waiting for hours to buy alcohol.
Why liquor matters to states?
Queues after easing of restrictions, and a price hike are pointers to the importance of liquor as a source of revenue.
Manufacture and sale of liquor is one of the major sources of revenue, and the reopening comes at a time when the states have been struggling to fill their coffers amid the disruption on account of the lockdown. With lockdown, State revenues may get a ‘high’ from liquor sales
States eye excise from liquor sales to tackle fiscal crisis that has intensified with revenue contraction. Long winding queues outside liquor shops in select areas across the country barring four States (Bihar, Gujarat, Manipur and Nagaland) and Union Territory of Lakshadweep have brought some cheer for local governments.
FACTS ABOUT ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN INDIA:
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New Town, Rajarhat: St. Xavier's University, Kolkata reached out to the eleven neighborhood villages (including Kathalberia, Kulberia, Morapukur and Kamlahati) where University students go for social outreach programmes. Jesuit Fathers with some university officers and student volunteers distributed food items - rice, dal, potatoes, and soybeans - to poor families in five phases - on April 19, 20, 22, 26 and May 3, reaching out to 1,200 families in total.
SXUK has also extended its support to relief work in Boitakhana, Sealdha. The humanitarian work will continue in the days to come as and when required in these villages. The distribution work was organised at St. Francis Academy, Kathalberia village, adhering to COVID protocol guidelines issued by the Government.
The Vice-Chancellor is constantly in touch with the faculty, staff and students of the university with instructions and advisories. Students of Xaverians in Action (XIA) association of the University have also announced an online campaign for donation to express their solidarity to the neighbourhood people.
Online classes are going on smoothly well. Teachers and students are in touch with the Registrar with feedback and suggestions.
Father Louis Hincq, a Belgian priest and a former principal of St Xavier’s Collegiate School, Calcutta and St. Xavier’s School, Burdwan, left for his heavenly abode, on Sunday, April 5, at the Maison Saint Claude La Colombiere, a home for elderly Jesuits adjacent to Jesuit School of St. Michelle in Brussels, Belgium. He was 98.
Born in 1922, Father Hincq joined the Jesuit society in 1940. He came to India in 1947. Father Hincq was ordained in 1953 and took his final vows five years later. Father Hincq had also served as in-charge of the Higher Secondary section of St Xavier’s College.
Father had learnt and mastered Bengali at St Lawrence School and studied theology at St Mary’s, Kurseong. He underwent final training at Sitagarah in Hazaribagh.This illustrious Jesuit priest returned to Belgium in 1981.
Whenever I visited Brussels or Luxemburg, I made it a point to meet Fr. Hincq. Once he showed me a neatly kept file with all letters he had been receiving from his old students in Kolkata. He particularly showed me the letters of General Shankar Roy Chowdhury and Manish Gupta. I called up Manish and asked Father to speak to his old student, both were delighted to share memories of golden days spent together.
Another time he volunteered to show me around the city of Brussels. He took me to the Little Europe. We spent a long time there, together, reminiscing and relaxing over an ice-cream.
During another visit, I told him that I was planning to visit Luxemburg to meet Fr. Emile Gales, former principal of St. Xavier’s School, Haldia. He volunteered to take me to Luxemburg. We travelled together by train.
At one point during our travel, a police officer came in and asked for Fr. Hincq’s ID card. He showed his. After the officer left, he told me he is an idiot. You are the visitor and I am resident. He didn’t even check you. I gently told him, “The officer knew well that I am no stranger because I am with you.”
When we reached Luxemburg Jesuit residence, Fr. Gales was eagerly waiting for us. We had a long conversation and Fr. Gales asked me about Kolkata. While at dinner, Fr. Gales offered a merry drink in my honour, saying that he is back in an Indian company after a long time.
Fr. Hincq was a very affectionate man. During my visits, he used to take me to other Jesuits in the residence. Fr. Destienne and Fr. Huart were among them.
I remember Fr. Hincq very fondly, as an emissary of values and virtues that are imperishable. May his soul rest in peace.
Felix Raj, SJ