The Other Side: Redefining Bharat is a volume in honour of His Grace Archbishop Vincent Michael Concessao on the completion of 50 golden years of his service to God and to humanity as a priest. His 50 years of priesthood also coincide with his 75th birthday. The book highlights topics that are not only dear to Archbishop Vincent’s heart and espoused by the Catholic Church, they are issues which the Archbishop has rallied for in the public sphere, and for which he has provided outstanding leadership. The essays, written by eminent authors, focus on stark realities of the India which is not as shining as India Inc. and which the rich and powerful would like us to believe. The essays draw roadmaps that India could follow for a brighter tomorrow.
Dominic Emmanuel, SVD, has been awarded the National Communal Harmony Aard for 2008 by the President of India. A columnist and author specializing in inter-religious dialogue, he is currently Director of Communication/Information
Francis Gonsalves, SJ, is Principal of the Vidyajyoti College of Theology, Delhi. Besides lecturing in theology, he writes extensively on religion, spirituality and social-justice issues in various publications in India and abroad.
It has been a tumultuous 75 years in the life of the nation, and in the life of Vincent Michael Concessao of the district Mangalore, Karnataka, a crucible of the freedom struggle. First as a seminarian studying to join the clergy, and then 50 years as Priest, Bishop and Archbishop in Delhi-with a few years away in Agra, Vincent Concessao has responded to epochal developments that have taken place, specially since 1975. In a manner that is a lesson to not just the Catholic clergy but to social activists in the secular sector. The Delhi floods and the massive displacement during the demolition of slums in the 1970s saw him set up relief and rehabilitation structures that, as Chetanalya, a social action wing of the Delhi Archdiocese, have brought a smile dwellers, rickshaw pullers, destitute women, and people out in the cold. This book honours that achievement.
The ‘perspective of the poor’ is the lens through which the proposed book seeks to review the march of India so as to daringly draw up plans and proposals that might enable us all to hope for a better future.
Authors featured in the book, each a well known name in public life, look at the traumas and the shortcomings of Bharat and they celebrate the achievements of India, juxtaposing narrative with some sharp questioning of the different the nation’s successive governments have made in the life of the people. Or failed to make. Questions are asked on hunger and food, on devolution of governance, education, and the status of the health of the common citizen, specially young children, and even more particularly, the girl child. Authors note that India now has 126,700 high net worth individuals, people who have not lost in the period of global economic crisis, but in fact gained. And yet updated estimates speak of 33.6 million more people in India becoming poor. There are nearly 80 per cent of Indian population who are surviving on less than Rs 20 a day.
The success of democracy is documented in analyzing the working of the universal franchise and the election process, the biggest such exercise in the world. Theologians and men and women engaged in the pursuit of peace in the world speak of the rich traditions of this vast country, the seminal plurality and the innate spatiality of the people, on which rests the continuing pursuit of unity, co-existence and harmony. It is in this spirit that the introduction traces the existence and harmony. It is in this spirit that the introduction traces the existence and flourishing of Christianity in India, and the modest role it has played, together with others, in the making of the nation.
We hope this volume will be of help in understanding the complexity of India and will generate debate and discussion among scholars, academics, intellectuals, theologians in various religious, and above all in the common people coming to grips with apparent contradictions in public life, and yet confident of their future in a democratic and secular India.
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