12th July: B’lore Indian Social Institute celebrates Golden Jubilee. Teesta to deliver lecture.

July 9, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Indian Social Institute-Bangalore celebrates Golden Jubilee

Karnataka, July 09, 2013: On July 12, 2013 Hon’ble Justice H.N.Nagamohan Das  of Karnataka High Court will inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations.  Ms. Teesta Setalwad, noted Human Rights activist will deliver the 7th Volken Memorial Lecture on the theme ‘A Republic’s Dilemma:  Constitutional Principles Vs. Majoritarianism’.  Jubilee celebrations include regional meetings of former trainees, publication of a book of history of ISI-B, a national seminar, a research study, instituting of a Volken Memorial Golden Jubilee Award foran activist of the year, production of a documentary, initiation of a diploma course and so on.

Indian Social Institute, Bangalore celebrates its Golden Jubilee in 2013. Initiated under the inspiring leadership of Fr. Henry Volken S J, the institute began in 1963 as a training centre of the Indian Social Institute Delhi.  Marked by the Jesuit characteristics of    ‘Magis’ (Excellence) and ‘Option for the poor’, ISI-B defines herself ‘as a Rights-based Resource organization in partnership with other like-minded people and groups to accompany the marginalized to claim their entitlements for a dignified life towards an equitable society’.

The beginnings of ISI-B are traced to Indian Social Institute, Delhi, a far sighted and visionary initiative of the Indian Jesuits in 1951. The leadership had come from Fr.Jerome D’Souza S J, a renowned educationist, remarkably active in the civil society of the days of Independence.  He dreamt along with other Jesuits, that we can contribute in the emergence of the newly independent India as a full grown democratic and equitable nation.

Thus training of professional social workers became a priority. Along with other Jesuit centers across the country ISI-B became a hub for training of social activists. Led by Fr. Henry Volken SJ, Fr. Stan Lourduswamy S J, Duarte Baretto, Fr.  John Descrochers, Br. Archibald Cordeiro S J and many others, batches of youth and middle aged lay religious thronged the Institute. They spent up to three months learning the process of Social Analysis and skills of social mobilization. The result was unimaginable.  Dozens of action groups that emerged in the four southern states of India had all men and women trained by ISI-B. A notable example was the Fishermen’s movement in Kerala, which created a ripple in the dialogue between Liberation theology and action for justice in the 1980s. The leaders of the movement had learned their lessons in the precincts of ISI-B. Today, as we traverse the action groups around the south of India, invariably we hear this: ‘ISI-B taught us the basics of social action’.

The strength of the Institute has been and continues to be its ideological base, analytical skills and touch with the most marginalized across the states even after its autonomy in 1993. The Institute now functions with its thrust areas as Human Rights, Gender Equity, Livelihood issues, and Secularism and Ecological issues. The priority groups for the ISI-B are Dalits (the most marginalized in India constituting the indigenous people, lower castes and economically most marginalized, constituting almost 30 per cent of India’s population). ISI-B operates through various Units: Training and Human Rights Units, Women’s Unit, Research Unit, Library and Documentation and Outreach programs in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamilnadu.

Over the years ISI-B has been part of  a large network of Community-Based Organizations (CBOs), People’s Organizations, Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Networks, individual NGOs, Universities, Research Centers and other Civil Society Organizations.  A major focus in the activities of the institute has been to maintain its secular character. Plagued as India is by caste and gender discriminations, ISI-B consciously attempts to keep its doors open to all religions, all castes, and avoids all kinds of discrimination in its operations.

ISI-B and their collaborators are aware of the complex socio-political reality that is emerging in this country. How do we confront and intervene in this confusing and challenging scenario? We believe it is only by promoting a culture of critical reflection on the processes of growth and development, of politics and culture and by facilitating the formation of a cadre of workers to mobilize people to fight the forces of injustice.  Research, advocacy and lobbying become essential to generate critical insights into the reality. Re-conceptualizing, re-visiting and re-visioning the various categories, thoughts and ideologies and transforming these as socio-political tools for action-reflection-action in the Ignatian Paradigm will be our strategy to reach our vision.

– mk george

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