Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Turning Point

                                              The Turning Point
                                               (Fritjof Capra)

As Henderson writes,”They tell us about the sparkling dishes and clothes, but forget to mention the loss of those sparkling rivers and lakes.”
Private profits are being made increasingly at public costs in the deterioration of the environment and the genral quality of life.
American system of agriculture exerts its inflationary impact on the economy at many levels.Production is achieved with the help of energy intensive machines and by means of heavy doses of oil-based pesticides and fertilizers.these methods not only destroy theorganic balance in th soil and produce poisonous chemical substance in our food but are also yielding ever diminishing returns.
The same is true of animal farming. Most of the grain is eaten by the livestock and then they are eaten by men which lead to obesity and sicknesses.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The Universities and their Commitment to the Good of the Planet

           The Universities and their Commitment to the Good of the Planet
                                                    Rev.Fr. George Madathiparampil Ph.D.
                                                    Secretary Higher Education, Syro-Malabar Church                      
                                                     Former President, St. Berchmans’ College
                                                     Kerala, India
In this paper, I am going to deal with the green house effect in India and especially in the State of Kerala and the remedial measures that could be taken by Catholic colleges in the State.
Role of Universities in the Transformation of the Society
As the universities are the intellectual hubs of a society, it would be a great tragedy if the students and the faculty exhibit a severe lack of understanding of the importance of the preservation of the environment. If the university education does not enable the students and the faculty in preserving the planet, the billions of dollars spent in higher education become a waste of resources. Referring to this wastage of human potential in higher education, David Orr remarks: “The problem of education as opposed to the problem in education can be attributed in large part to the fact that all too often schools, colleges and universities have been uncritically accepting of  and sometimes beholden to larger economic and political forces.” He further points out that the “imperative is that we must pay full and close attention to the ecological conditions and prerequisites by which we live.”According to Orr, “we seldom know how human actions affect ecosystems or the biosphere gives us every reason to act with informed precaution.”(Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment and the Human  Prospect, Island Press,Washington,P.3)
The need of the hour is to change the perspectives of the people in their relationship with the environment. Instead of trying to dominate the planet, we have to enable the educated to build up relationships with all levels of existence. Fritjof Capra offers a  new world view from his study of modern physics that emphasizes “interconnectedness, relationship, dynamic patterns, continual change and transformation.”(Uncommon Wisdom,Flamingo,London, p.225)Capra wants a new perspective with regard to the Universe: “To change this situation is now absolutely vital for our well-being and survival, and change will only be possible, as a society, to shift to a new holistic and ecological vision of reality.”(Uncommon Wisdom,  p.190).
Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
Pope Francis comes out strongly in favor of protecting the environments through his various address, talks and encyclical letters. Some of his statements are given below:
“There is a moment in which man goes too far in this task of subduing the earth; he gets overly zealous and loses respect for nature.Then ecological problems arise, like global warming, which are new forms of non-culture” (On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century, p. 5).
In his address to the president of Ecuador, the Holy Father further elaborates this aspect again: “Take good care of creation. St. Francis wanted that. People occasionally forgive but nature never does. If we don’t take care of the environment, there is no way of getting around  it.” (Meeting with the President of Ecuador, April 22, 2013)

Pope Francis highlights the importance that should be given to the preservation of the environment in his Encyclical letter, Laudato Si ,in the following words: “What kind of world do we want to leave to those  who come after us, to the children who are now growing up? What is the purpose of our world? Why are we here? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts…we need to see that what is at stake is our own dignity.”( No.160).He warns against the modern habit of “ leaving an inhabitable planet to future generations.” This issue is connected with “the ultimate meaning of our earthly sojourn.”In Laudato Si, the Holy Father speaks of the destruction and disintegration that are taking place in the modern society because of the indifference we show to other human beings and eco-systems .He explains the fact further: “Men and women of our post modern world run the risk of rampant individualism….and self-centered culture of instant gratification.” He sees the reflection of this fragmentation in family relationships and other social ties. According to him, “parents can be prone to impulsive and wasteful consumption which then affects their children who find it increasingly difficult to acquire a home of their own and build a family”. He wants us to “keep the poor of the future in mind “ as well as “ today’s poor whose life on earth is brief and who cannot keep on waiting.”
In such a context of bewilderment and confusion, the role of the universities in conveying healthy, wholesome and morally right values assumes great importance. Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the university teachers during his visit to Washington D.C. ,emphasizes the need to  become aware of this important role of universities in transferring moral values to the young. “Catholic identity is not dependent on statistics. Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It demands and inspires much more: namely, that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates with the ecclesiastical life of faith. Our institutions…become places in which God’s active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ’s being for others. ” He points out further in that landmark address on university education that the “dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated.”
In Caritas Veritate (No.50), he speaks about the need for safeguarding the environment: “”The problem of the environment and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly , respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world.”
The meaning of “Subdue  the earth “in the Biblical account of creation:

Greenhouse gas emissions

The performance of India in preserving the environment is dismal. According to Parkash Nelliyat(Centre for Bio-Diversity Policy and Law, Chennai), “ India’s developmental activities are affecting the environment  to a considerable extent through overexploitation of natural resources and indiscriminate discharge of waste. This has been interpreted by the environmental Kuznets curve(EKC)…India is on the upward part of the EKC.”(The Hindu, May 1,2018,p.9)

“India was the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, in 2009 at 1.65 Gt per year, after China and the United States. With 17 percent of world population, India contributed some 5 percent of human-sourced carbon dioxide emission; compared to China's 24 percent share. On per capita basis, India emitted about 1.4 tons of carbon dioxide per person, in comparison to the United States’ 17 tons per person, and a world average of 5.3 tons per person.”

The landscape of Kerala

Disposal of waste materials
“Trash and garbage disposal services, responsibility of local government workers in India, are ineffective. Solid waste is routinely seen along India's streets and shopping plazas.
Trash and garbage is a common sight in urban and rural areas of India. It is a major source of pollution. Indian cities alone generate more than 100 million tons of solid waste a year. Street corners are piled with trash. Public places and sidewalks are despoiled with filth and litter, rivers and canals act as garbage dumps. In part, India's garbage crisis is from rising consumption. India's waste problem also points to a stunning failure of governance.The tourism regions in the country mainly hill stations are also facing this issue in the recent years.
In 2000, India's Supreme Court directed all Indian cities to implement a comprehensive waste-management programme that would include household collection of segregated waste, recycling and composting. These directions have simply been ignored. No major city runs a comprehensive programme of the kind envisioned by the Supreme Court.
Indeed, forget waste segregation and recycling directive of the India's Supreme Court, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development estimates that up to 40 percent of municipal waste in India remains simply uncollected. Even medical waste, theoretically controlled by stringent rules that require hospitals to operate incinerators, is routinely dumped with regular municipal garbage. A recent study found that about half of India's medical waste is improperly disposed of.”

“In the beginning of the 18th c, forests covered almost the entire land area of Kerala. But then more settlements of people and through cultivation, the area of forests began to dwindle. From the beginning of the 19th c, the forest area began to diminish to a great extent. The present century witnessed a large scale of cultivation of various crops in the low lands, middle lands and high lands of the State. Kerala has 44 rivers and more dams were built across the rivers with the pace of industrialization accelerating. It is estimated that between 1956 and 1973, 4187 sq KMs of forest area were delineated for various purposes. From 1960 to 1980, Kerala has been annually losing an average of forest area of about 6290 hectares.”
New Vision
Capra: “ The new paradigm may be called a holistic world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term “ecological” is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical process of nature.”
Steps that can be taken by catholic colleges and Institutions of Higher education for the preservation and protection of the environment in Kerala, India:

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Funeral of Fr.Kalam,May 1,18

Today(May 1,18) I went to Pallikkoottumma to participate in the funeral mass for Fr. George Kalathil. I met him a few days ago at the priests' residence. He was weak and frail and could not speak well. But  he mentioned my name when I asked him whether he recognized me. I prayed over him before I left. I feel consoled in the fact that I could meet him.He suffered a lot though his physical ailments caused by Parkinson's disease.God bless you,Fr.Kalathil.We will never forget you.
Still, the pain left by his demise is very deep. His presence at the priests' residence made me often visit the place.He was gentle, affable and friendly. No bitter words ever came from him referring to other people.All of us , his classmates, miss him deeply.God bless him.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Battle for Digital Supremacy

Economist magazine of march 17,18 has a lead article on Digital Supremacy, the fight between the American and China economies."Designed by Apple and Assembled in china is no more valid. 
China's world class tech-giants like Alibabba and Ten Cents  have market values of $500bn,rivaling Facebook's.
China may overtake America in AD by 2025.
The reason for America's success in the 50s was  investment in education, engineering and research.The same has to continue.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Advantages of Higher Education

According to the Economist, there is a great interest on the part of the young to join universities because of the economic uplift it offers.
In South Korea, 70% of the young join the universities.
In the OECD club of 35 countries , 43% of 25-34 year olds now have degrees.In America, the figure is 48%.
"And a degree is an obvious way for bright youngsters from poor families  to prove their abilities."
Graduate premium is a term employed in assessing the expense on education.It is the difference between the average earnings of someone with a degree and someone with no more than more than a secondary school education.

Monday, March 19, 2018


From James Martin's book:
Richard Rohr: We clearly come to God not by doing it right but ironically by doing it wrong."
James Martin's doubts about his vocation.
" I was being called to be a Jesuit not despite my faults,my limitations, and my neuroses, but with them, may be even because of them.God was calling all of me--even the parts I did not especially like--to be with him.
"Understanding Peter's humanity was a liberating insight for me.For if God calls each of us individually, he calls us with both our gifts and our failings.And it is in our failings and in the parts of our lives that embarrass us , that we are drawn closest to God."
"Everyone needs to be reminded of this: it is difficult to accept that God loves us as we are, with our limitations, as well as our tendencies to sin,Certainly God is calling us to conversion...At the same time God is always inviting us to follow him, with a full and forgiving knowledge of our human nature.
"Being a Christian means being a loved sinner"
"It is precisely our limitations and even our tendency to sin, that draw us nearer to God and make us better disciples."
"Peter was as imperfect as the rest of the disciples but in his humility he recognized his ultimate dependence on God.For this reason,he is at least for me , the most human of the saints and one of the most lovable.