Ecological Conversation – All Gujarat Students Development Movement, india

An Ecology Camp was organized by the A.G.S.D.M (All Gujarat Students Development Movement) at Ashadeep – Human Development Centre, Vallabh Vidyanagar Gujarat on Sunday 23rd July, 2017. Trupti, Priyal, Nikunj, Ketan and Ratnadeep were mainly responsible for organizing the camp as a follow up  of the International Environmental  Workshop, “Laudato Si in Action”, which they five attended at Indian Social Institute Bangalore.  The first activity was the registration done by the youth.

The camp began seeking the blessings of the Almighty. Ketan shared some information on ‘Food sovereignty’. The points he raised was on how the farmer was getting less procurement price for his produce.  This phenomenon leads to frustration among the farmers who had taken huge loans and were unable to repay those loans leading to suicides. He also explained to the group that the amount paid for the food we buy from the market is proportionally much greater than the actual price. By providing examples Ketan’s message was well received by all.  Finally, it meant that the poor are the most affected.  This led to interactions among the participants,

Trupti Parmar spoke about ‘Global Warming’.  She dwelt upon how people were polluting the land, air and water. This is something we have experienced as we have seen this around us. There is an excessive use of Plastic which has replaced paper and cloth bags. The misuse of polluting vehicles has choked up the cities. Many trees have been cut down to broaden the highways. This has harmed our environment.

Ratnadeep Macwana explained about ‘Climate Change’.  He interacted with the youth and made his talk interesting. He spoke about ‘Laudata Si’ the Holy Father’s encyclical which was appreciated worldwide. Pope Francis had through his book had given a clear message that God created the nature and human beings alike. We as his creation ought to preserve and save Our Common Home (Earth). We as human being are responsible for what we are experiencing today. Through the discussions the participants were made aware that they are equally responsible in nurturing Mother Earth. It was due to our lack of interest and irresponsibility that we are feeling the effects of Global warming.  There are many organizations who are involved not only in organizing tree planting programs but are challenging those forces that are actually indulging in harmful activities resulting in creating damage not only to nature but to the all of humankind.

After a short break time, a few participants shared their experiences through which they expressed their desire that the youth get more involved in showing their concern and taking care of the environment.  One of them spoke about air pollution and the hazards it poses on our health.

We also conducted two activities in which the youth wrote and drew some beautiful and inspiring messages and on the need to nurture and save the environment.

We then had the tree plantation ceremony in the open plot. We planted around ten saplings mainly medicinal plants.

The team strongly felt that the outcome of our experience at Bangalore led us to organize the one day camp, with the aim of imparting information and creating awareness among the youth, on the dire need of caring and nurturing Mother Earth.




Yahweh! the God of Indigenous

By Sana Mariam

“Sana Mariam, is a graduate in Social and Cultural Studies from University of the Punjab. She is a former member from IMCS Pakistan. Through this article she’s sharing her experience of spirituality of Indigenous people of Philippines.”

The mighty, the creator, the provider, the healer, all of these characteristics belongs of the God All things were made to glorify Him. The trees the mountains the lake all things are filled with Gods spirits. Each passing moment they are praising and glorifying Him. Living experience with Indigenous (AETA community) from 12 June to 25th June is a close encounter with God and His people. Experiencing” Yahweh” in all his majestic power. There, I felt a deep conversion inside me. Where my all fears turn into strength, my worries into victory, My anxieties into amusements. Climbing the mountain is a life living reflection in itself already. Some time we walk under the sun very happily without knowing the miseries of life on the way because it seems so beautiful from afar. When we start walking then we realize its tiring and it’s not that easy there are ups and downs. We stop in the journey of life, take a rest, sometimes we continue walking even though its hard.Sometimes we need a hand to push us up, sometimes even cry and think to give up. That time kind word from a companion can boost up the energies and make you continue and not to forget the mission and purpose of life.

We the so called Literary “literate world” claims all the intelligence and knowledge belong to us. The small world of indigenous peoples still holds the treasure of wisdom simplicity though mystical in nature. The beliefs in the spirit in that’s all the spirits are sacred and everything has a spirit is a way of respecting life (the breath of life from GOD)whereas this respect brings a question mark for the oneness of the GOD for the modern religion. Wherein the book of Genesis supports the idea where God sees everything and he said its good. Everything is good because it is filled with his spirit. God’s spirit is within all the creation therefore they are all sacred and must be respected with love and reverence. Therefore Pope Francis in His encyclical Laudato Si’ calls our attention toward the Care for creation where all things magnify God’s Holy name. Consequently I find nothing that can challenge the oneness of God. If we give respect to the water, the trees the mountains, the wind and mother earth. Actually they are all life giver. Without air there will be no life, without water there will be no life, without mother earth where shall human kind stand where we will grow and what will we eat. We just need to accept their presence that is essential for us.

I found the mightiness of God. The infiniteness of God. Owns the beauty of all of it. The indigenous peoples are the one holding the wisdom of God in all His purity and simplicity, All the majestic power. I find myself so limited. My teachings were God stay/live just in the defined places like churches and the blessed sacraments. Indigenous peoples experience God everywhere. Even in the simple Umpukan (group of people sitting together). Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.Due to our busy life we are forgetting those values, whereas those values are still being practiced by indigenous people.

They are still keeping their values of being together. They are still sharing the cup of joy which reminds me the breaking of bread and communion everyday. Which bring community together. Being a city girl at first it was hard to understand that I was surrounded by the ancestor’s spirit, living in the 21st century one could say its useless to talk about that Moreover: the stories being taught to us through horror movies and dramas, where spirits are bad, they take revenge and disturb Us but knowing all those facts I felt a sense of security among them. Sense of protection, guidance knowing some objects specifically represents those spirits. I was not afraid my faith grew deeper and deeper. I experience sitting under the trees which was specifically residence of ancestral spirits and they did guide our discussion. There I learnt the culture of Respect.

Visiting Mount Pinatubo The sacred mountain where the Apo Namalyari (Creator-God of the Aeta) resides the experience is very challenging to put into words. It cannot describe in words where someone find oneself so small under the majesty of God. The breeze over the deep blue water and the mighty mountains automatically brings me to the prayer mode when I want to praise and worship God, the vastness of the nature is so clear though deep that I want to be lost and be one with nature in her immense beauty. What If I die today and God ask me; how was Heaven?The beauty of the deep blue wavy sea surrounded by the majestic mountains towering into the blue sky bring me to the depth of the Mighty One where God dwell with all divine majesty and beauty and where frail humans like me can dive deep down in himself consequently finding inner peace.

We become so private nowadays so much so that everyone has created her/his own God. And religion is just trying to impose over other religion. This is my God and these are God’s characteristics.Moreover my God/Religion is more powerful than yours. At least among the Aeta’s they are practicing the universal God that is everywhere. The rituals and practices being practiced since centuries immemorial have been transforming of the “civilized” cultures, with the same sense of reverence of the spirits that makes the Aeta community unique. The uniqueness stands out first of all in the rituals of praying with songs and dancing around the fire, and second, the (Umpukan) brings about the strong community spirits among the Aeta. Caring for each one in the community adds life to the community. Respecting nature, the trees and the fire flies, mother earth, the sun the moon, the stars, the rain, the wind, the thunderstorm are part of their daily lives as they acknowledge the Spirit’s strong presence with them and in a way nature is also communicating with them. Therefore, the Aeta’s culture is respect and reverence of nature which they learn from their elders by communicating with the nature and they continue to experience the rhythm, sacredness, depth and limitation of the land and the mountains, the streams, the deep blue lake, the forests, the moon, sun, the stars, the milky ways and galaxies.

Unfortunately, I found myself so selfish and limited.The community is practicing great values like respecting elders, women and children. And having code of conduct of how to stay together since the time immemorial.

They do have female kapitan/village head. Where my religion my teaching teaches me only my God and my salvation, where in Indigenous Believes in communion, they stay and practice communion. Where there is great love and respect for the women. Which make me thinks and rethink A community practitioner of such a kind values. How comes followers of other than God. I can sense a strong sense of Merciful Father, the protecting brother and the guiding spirit as Holy spirit. Where the whole concept of Trinity meet.

Unfortunately,the Government of Philippines under the tourism department open this sacred place for tourism. Where people are not given proper orientation how to pay respect to this sacred Place. Secondly The Indigenous Peoples are losing their land because of some political interests and of course the money which serves as a “God/Idol” for some. Through the given exposure I wish and pray for Indigenous peoples for their strong hold on their ancestral land where they can live dignified life. Moreover, I hope and wish that they can grow in their faith in Apo Namalyari, the ninunu and anito through the gospel of creation and umpukan.

At the end I want to make a request to all the readers to pay respect if you are visiting those sacred places because God Is everywhere and you never know when will you encounter God and when God will encounter you.

Youth Alternatives – “Care for our Common Home – 2017” Competition

STL Competition 2017 edited 18 July 2017-resized v5 FSchool Transformative Leadership (STL)


Youth Alternatives- “Care for our Common Home – 2017” Competition


  1. International Movement of Catholic Students – Asia Pacific

International Movement of Catholic Students – Pax Romana is a Catholic faith based movement that works with university and tertiary education students across the world. Founded in 1921, under the name Pax-Romana, in order to promote peace at a global level and then established the Asia Pacific coordination in 1954. IMCS promotes the holistic formation of students by involving them in social action, representation and community building. It links together over 80 national federations of university students. In the Asia Pacific region, under 4 sub regions (South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia and Pacific) there are 10 member national organizations and 6 contact groups.

As a movement, we believe in ‘investing’ in students as ‘social capital.’ The holistic formation of students contributes in the long term construction of civil society. As a Catholic faith based movement IMCS is not ‘literalist’ or fundamentalist. It promotes peace building, social cohesion and respectful interreligious dialogue.

  1. The School of Transformative Leadership (STL)

The School of Transformative Leadership (STL) aims at creating an Asia Pacific pool of Young Leaders committed to the transformation of global society in the aspects of political, economical and socio-cultural. STL is designed in 4 parts to reach to above said goal (Research, Social Immersion, Skill building & Application of learning).

  1. About “Youth AlternativesCare for our Common Home 2017”. Competition

One of the biggest challenges of our times is that there is a huge deficit of Critical Thinking and Emotional Intelligence in skillful analyzing, assessing and reconstructing the thinking process together with personal and social competence.  IMCS Asia Pacific has been committed to address this creatively through the School of Transformative Leadership (STL) and has decided to conduct the “Youth Alternatives” competition under STL annually. As a concrete step, STL proudly presents, “Youth AlternativesCare for our Common Home 2017” competition.

 This competition is enabling an environment for the young people to be creative, to express,  to give the ability to relate well, to lead with empathy and to have effective communication and problem-solving abilities, as well a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and socio-ecocentrism.

With this, the competition is in a way is to break the culture which have been normalised by a continuation of ignorance and silence in the society and create a voice against inequality, discrimination, marginalization, exploitation of environment and people which is done systematically by some sectors of the society to any particular communities or environment.

This is an Asia Pacific Competition for tertiary students daring them to critically think on Climate Change and express creatively. Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Almost in every natural disaster it has been evident that climate change is real and can no longer be denied. And with the recent Encyclical of Pope Francis, Laudato si. This document also talks very much of the Sustainable Development Goal and with all other recent development in  United Nation on Climate Change,  IMCS have taken up Climate Change as thematic area to work on for three years. IMCS AP recently conducted Study session under the theme of “Laudato si in Action: Addressing Ecological Crisis in Asia Pacific – Capacity building of Asia Pacific Students to be critical and analytical educators and advocates of Environmental Justice”. And as a follow-up activity, to engage the students to apply their learnings, analysis and reflection further to take up actions as a educators and advocates in concrete manner in their own locality.

  1. Details of the competition:
  Topics (In the context of environmental justice and climate change)
1. Urbanization and Redevelopment- What are the alternative models of development
2. Impact of industrialization on marine life and resources
3. Climate change and its implication on people’s migration
4. Land grabbing  and Extractive Industries-It’s Impact on Communities and The Environment
5. Children in Hazardous Workplace
6. Effects of Climate Change on Women
7. Impact of Climate Change on Marginalised  Community
8. Governance and Democracy- Who has the real power, Politicians or Corporations
9. Air and water pollution’s impact on health
10. Sustainable Farming and Food Sovereignty – Why it is important for the planet

* Multi-Lingual (In your Local Language with English Translation)

You may choose any of the topics presented by using any of this medium/segment below. For each topic you can only use one medium.

Essay Painting Photography Poetry Cartooning Story Writing Social Song Stand-up Comedy Poster Short Video


  1. Prize: (3 winners in each segment irrespective of the language)
  • The winners under each competition shall receive a certificate from IMCS Asia Pacific – School of Transformative Leadership (STL) and winning segments will be exhibited in IMCS website and in publications.
  • Winners will get fully sponsored (travel, accommodation…etc) invitations to participate in the IMCS AP – SLT Immersion and Training programme to be held in The Philippines in January 2018.
  1. Terms:
  • Entry is free
  • One person can apply only for a one category.
  • All events are solo and multi-lingual (with duly translated English script of your work)
  • The competition is open to IMCS members between age 17 to 30 only.
  • Each National Movement/Contact Group can send up to 10 entries for a one category. (Will be taken into consideration under 1st sent 1st taken basis.)
  • Content should be Critical, Non-Religious, Non-Romanticized, Non-Abusive.
  • All events will be judged on Originality, Content, Theme & Creative presentation.
  • Results will be announced on 10th October 2017.
  • Each entry must be original in concept, design, and execution and may not violate any copyright laws; off topic discussions shall be disqualified and strictly no plagiarism is allowed.
  • IMCS AP – SLT shall use the content once submitted
  • Entrants will be deemed to have accepted these rules and to agree to be bound by them when entering the competitions.
  1. Segment Guidelines:
Guidelines  Submission

●                 Essay can be in your Local Language with English Translation

●                 Should have a minimum of 1000 words & a maximum of 2000 words.

●                 No image or artwork should be used.

E-Mail us the Typed Essay in PDF Format

●                 Artwork should be two dimensional

●                 Each artwork should be no larger than A3 (16.55 x 11.69 inches)

●                 Any type of paint can be used (oil, acrylics, watercolour, etc.), no crayons or colour pencil should be used.

E-Mail us the scanned copy of your painting in PDF format



●                 One photograph submission per participant is allowed

●                 Hard Copy photograph submission must be in matte and 4in x 6in in size

●                 Digital manipulation of the images will not be allowed.

●                 All submitted soft copy images must be less than 10MB in size.

E-Mail us the Photograph

●                 Poem can be in your Local Language with English Translation

●                 The poem must have titles and contain minimum of 10 lines.

E-Mail us the Typed Poem in PDF Format

●                 Size of the submission should be A4

●                 Submissions may include different sizes of cartoon – Single panel, strip or a two-tier strip

●                 The text can be in your Local Language with English Translation

E-Mail us the scanned copy of your Cartoon in PDF format



●                 Story can be in your Local Language with English Translation

●                 Should have maximum of 1000 words.

●                 No image or artwork should be used.

E-Mail us the Typed story in PDF Format

●                 Song should be contestant’s original work, may have multiple co-writers but only one name will be considered.

●                 Song can be in your Local Language with English Translation

●                 Time limit for the performance is 4+1 minutes

●                 Only non-electric instruments are allowed.

E-mail/Upload the recorded Song in the google drive and share it to this email:




●                 Submit recorded

●                 Time limit is 5+1 minutes

●                 Content should be contestant’s original work, may have multiple co-writers but only one name will be considered.

E-mail or Upload the recorded Performance in the google drive and share it to this email:



●                 No computer graphics are allowed.

●                 Each poster should be in A1 size

E-mail us the copy of the poster in pdf format
Short Video

·        Video should be contestant’s original work, work can be in a team people but only one name will be considered.

·        Time limit is 2+1 minutes

·        No copyright violation if any other video clip used in the production  in the case of necessity

E-mail/Upload the Short video @ google doc and share it to this email:


  1. Submission Form
Full Name  
Date of Birth (Please attach your ID Proof)  
Contact Details (Email, Phone Number…etc)  
Passport Number (Not compulsory)  
National Movement  
Segment/Category (Video, Essay, Poems….etc.)  
Topic (From above mentioned 10 topics)  
Title of Your Artwork  
Submission Date  

Submissions up to August 26, 2017

 Send your Submissions to:

 For more Information: Email:

Other reference:

To download this competition details and form, please click this School of Transformative Leadership-Youth Alternatives 2017-final5 july17

Peace with Creation

Reflection of Asia Pacific Council 2017 

“Laudato Si” in Action:
 Addressing the Ecological Crisis in Asia Pacific”
Capacity building of Asia Pacific Students to be critical and analytical educators and advocates of environmental justice

By Anna Rony

The goal of each goal is to reach Peace! 
Pax means Peace! And we know Peace begins with a Smile!
Yes, we love to be Peacemakers!

Thanks To the entire team of IMCS AP 2017 for the wonderful opportunity to connect the Asian Youth together in a Platform for solidarity and Intellectual Growth!

Among the many commitments that we took on lifestyle changes, personally we choose to be peacemakers as much as possible. Big problems are consequences of small actions. Global warming and food insecurity are big problems but are as a result of the small activities we perform every day. Conversely, the big solutions are also rooted in SMALL ACTIONS! So Let’s be part of it as change makers! 

It was great to be part of the study session of Pax Romana IMCS 2017 in Bangalore on “Laudato Si In action “.Being part of the Asian Youth Academy and Asian Theology Forum for past 3 years, has greatly enlarged my collaboration with Asian Youth across the globe on being sensible and committed to socially relevant issues. It was a great platform given by Pax Romana to help me learn and connect to have a human experience which was more over a shared experience of friendship and love.

The theme of the study session“Laudato Si in Action “was very relevant and progressive in its approach. The organisers of the study session helped the Asian Youth to understand the real need for change makers in diverse fields to address the issues of climate change through excellent group works, exposure visits and interactive sessions.

Hailing from a family farming community, I feel farming is a way of life in harmony with nature for a sustainable life for one and all. Small scale food production in our villages are great storehouse of traditional diverse nutritious food, seed preservation, indigenous  knowledge and an important space for human relationship with one another. It was also a great time of friendship in sharing mangoes and pineapples from my farm to the friends in the IMCS AP 2017 .We want a liberating education accessible to all people to develop local democracy which I feel is the best place for dialogue and coordination between the economy and society. All young people have talent, capacity for initiative, positive energy for the future, thirst for learning and understanding and a propensity for innovation. So youth have to be considered as an important stakeholder in the construction of a better world for nurturing and caring for our Common Home.  Since everything is interconnected in this Universe, it’s also our very responsibility to seriously “ACT UPON” the issues of Climate Change “NOW” than to wait for our government policies to get an approval.

 “As for food, If we want  to be responsible to ourselves and the planet, then the best, most of us can do, most of the time is to shorten the chain from the farm to our table, get as close to the producer as possible whenever we can. We have forgotten that food comes from the land.If we do not learn it again, we die “. – Joan Dye Gussow

Small scale farmers already feed the majority of the world with less than a quarter of all farmland.Without the traditional knowledge of farmers, there is little hope to address climate change on the agriculture farm in a meaningful way.

fishing in the farm
fishing in the farm

During the eco spirituality session, we could understand that “The environmental crisis is fundamentally a spiritual crisis.” Thomas Berry (Cultural historian). From the words of Abdennour Bidar, “ The future of  humanity will move on tomorrow not only by the resolution of the financial and economic crisis, but in a more essential way by the resolution of the unprecedented spiritual crisis the whole of our humanity is going through.”

Improving the lives of slum dwellers and addressing climate change is, for Pope Francis, one and the same thing. Both require tackling the structural, root causes of inequality, injustice, poverty and environmental degradation.  From the book of Sirach (14 : 16-21) “Give and Receive, indulge yourself, because in hades one cannot look for luxury. All living beings become old like a garment for the  age old law is, ‘Everyone must die.’Like foliage growing on a bushy tree, some leaves falling, others growing, so are the generations of flesh and blood: one dies, another is born.Every achievement rots away and perishes, and with it goes its author.Blessed is anyone who meditates on wisdom, and reasons with intelligence, who studies her ways in his heart, and ponders her secrets.”

So lets look at the Trees, the manifestation of Nature around us  and Learn especially “Values” from the Roots and “Changes” from the Leaves.


” You and me are not alone, trust in the three fingers that grasp ‘U’  and ‘Me’ as  ‘We ‘ in their fold .”

Continue reading Peace with Creation

Pax Romana IMCS – A Little of Everything

Marina D’Costa is an Anthropologist working in the field of Public Health. She is been member of AICUF from year 2004 to 2009 and has been a leader from 2006 to 2009 of AICUF, Pax Romana IMCS India and now serves as a young professional volunteer in Pax Romana ICMICA. She founded ‘The Power of Dialogue’ banner in January 2013 to promote  and build a culture of dialogue. She does various works on dialogue under this banner.

Being part of Pax Romana IMCS is like doing a role play to prepare for the real world. The little things you do with powerful intentions when you are young, turns out to be a real mission for the world when you get a little older. My journey began at the age of 16 in my home movement AICUF (All India Catholic University Federation) also known as IMCS India. Hailing from a city like Mumbai where life is comfortable and just graduating out of high school, I stepped into a whole new realm of the society. I was introduced to AICUF at St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai where I was doing my graduation in Arts. Starting from fun and frolic personality development camps to humble outreach activities with orphans, I slowly was exposed to the real world where poverty and injustice thrived. The first time I left home  to stay with the marginalized people for a month was at the age of 17, where I lived in the villages of Tamil Nadu in South of India during the AICUF Tsunami rehabilitation summer camp. It was the first time I was exposed to how an underprivileged in his own village is treated. My dreams for this and that, which probably I don’t remember now were translated into a mission. In this summer camp I learned to dialogue with students from different states in India, understanding the reality of the society and culture through their sharing and experiences. As a student of humanities there is no social laboratory than what Pax Romana as a movement brings to you. I no more lived for myself; I grew to become a strong and sensitive human being. In my friend circle or parish youth group, I had an upper hand to make contributions in advocating change because of my exposure to reality and training in human rights. I learnt not to use sociological terms in vain. I understood the struggles and stories of dalits and adivasis. While I was aware of the reality, I believed in not being resigned and cynical about our society, rather I always approached positively to see how best I could contribute to uplift the marginalized people at one hand and to bring a shift in thoughts and values of young people on the other.

Marina-Invest inYouthAt the age of 18 I got elected as the national leader for AICUF. I started my train journeys all alone within the country. I started travelling for 24 hours one way in the train to reach Chennai where we have AICUF headquarters. It helped me multi-task and become responsible for my life. The needs were basic. Lifestyle was simple. Travelling to different states as a student leader for the movement was a pride. Staying with the students and their families’ added value to my education with the subjects of Sociology, Anthropology and Ancient Indian Culture that I was studying. I remember being complimented for being an AICUFer in gatherings and classrooms because of the stand I took in arguments supporting the realities of the people. So I was living my education on field each day.  My first International exposure was because of AICUF, when I was sent as a delegate for Pax Romana IMCS International Council. This seemed like a breakthrough. It was the first time I had seen the face of the airport or a plane. I travelled alone to a new country, not even having any idea how the map of that country looked or the currency it had. Unlike today I didn’t have the novelty of accessing information at the tip of my finger. The way I learnt to dialogue with students from different states in India, now I was learning to dialogue with students internationally. I am happy to share with you that even after 12 years of my formation in the movement, I still keep in touch with these friends nationally and internationally whom I met in my journey. I still continue to grow in fostering unconditional bonds of friendship within the movement. I was not aware that I was preparing myself to be an anthropologist, a researcher, a critical thinker, a theologian, a human rights activist, an innovator for dialogue, a multi tasker, a global leader, a traveller and all that people connect me to through my qualification, profession and the humanitarian works. I was not aware that I was preparing myself for a larger mission. I learnt that your work starts where you stand, the rest is created for you by the universe. All you need is a powerful intention to make a difference to the lives on this planet.

Today at the age of 28 I still march shoulder to shoulder with Pax Romana, now also being part of Pax Romana ICMICA as a young professional. The very reason I am connected to Pax Romana is because I feel responsible to give back to what the movement has invested in me. If it wouldn’t had been for the movement, I would not be what I am today to the world. I personally experienced many challenges, accuses, negative comments and other such issues that arise in every movement. However, I always ensured to let all these experience fade off and took full responsibility for my behaviour. I always reminded myself that my mission to build a better world was larger than these petty ego issues. One has to understand that it is human design to live with experiences, and one should know what the impact of living like this can turn out to be. Ask yourself, Can I be someone who can encourage a student and be the cause for transformation rather than being at the effect of a situation which I faced as a student. While I was busy with the movement activities, I didn’t compromise on my education, personal life or livelihood. I developed the ability to do more and more by unconditionally working for the good of the movement and for the world at large. The movement invested time and money in me. It gave me what it can unconditionally. How can I not be grateful to the movement and not contribute back. After all people like you and me build this movement. I am not sustaining my space in the movement, I am breathing life into the movement. This is how I choose to give back to what I received. You can connect the dots only when you look back. The mantra that worked for me to do my best in the movement is, “Focus on your mission”. Once your intentions are pure and you are passionate to make a difference, you will find your way to go places and fulfil your mission. Let us all become capable individuals who take full responsibility for our formation within the movement and branch out to various parts of the world making remarkable contribution to humanity. I want to end with the AICUF moto, “I will not leave the society, the way I have found it. I will make this world a better place. A new world of love and dialogue is possible”.

APC 2017 Declaration of Commitment

IMCS APC2017 header

 Declaration of Commitment 

“Laudato si’ in Action: Addressing the Ecological Crisis in Asia Pacific” Capacity building of Asia students to be critical and analytical educators and advocate of environmental justice
Organized by: International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana
Hosted by: All India Catholic University Federation (AICUF)
Venue: Indian Social Institute, Benson road, Bengaluru, India

Asia Pacific Council (APC) of International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) Pax Romana, held the workshop named “Laudato si’ in Action: Addressing the Ecological Crisis in Asia Pacific” from 21st to 25th May 2017 at Indian Social Institute, Benson town, Bengaluru. This workshop aimed to help young leaders awaken from dormancy about their responsibilities in the society, countries of Asia Pacific. This is exactly in the line of the spirit of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato si’ and Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences special pastoral concerns on Climate Change and Food Sovereignty, Global Warming and Ecology.

We, as the young leaders from different countries attended sessions which have strengthened our convictions and given us new insights that can be taken back to our own countries by implementing some of the solutions arising out of our reflections. We had an exposure programme in some local places of Bengaluru where we witnessed the damage of environment, shared our thoughts about the issues in our countries, reflected about eco spirituality and made some commitment for sustainable development at a personal, state, national and the global level, using Laudato si’ as frame of reflections and actions.

What we learnt:

  • We realized how the crisis of climate change and global warming are serious and urgent matters to consider.
  • We were alarmed by the growing global culture of ‘throw away’, indifference and exclusion rooted in systematic structures and consumerism spawned by market-driven capitalism.


We felt guilty and anguished to see deforestation, privatization of natural resources and degradation of nature under the banner of ‘Development’, thereby depriving safe environment to all. We resolve to commit ourselves and promote ecological education among our friends, families, institutions and communities. We express our gratitude to Pope Francis for his courageous leadership in addressing the inter-related crisis of climate change and ways of life threatening earth in our times.

Our Commitments (Personal & Movement):

We declare our belief that for sustainability of the envisaged global leadership, youth in all countries need to take up the leadership in responding to the ecological crisis and work for the protection of Mother Earth.

Grounded in our unwavering commitment to truth, we commit ourselves as leaders of International Movement of Catholic Students of Asia Pacific Countries to work together regionally and globally, through all the means available to study, promote, and act on the ideals and vision of integral ecology laid out by Pope Francis.

We realize that the role of our generation is very important for building up of peace and justice in the context of environmental problems and need to engage them creatively to build a generation, which upholds the values of equality, justice and genuine human development.

As per the motto of APC study session ‘Ego to Eco’, we the members of the IMCS Pax Romana promise to undergo ecological conversion and commit ourselves to fight against the causes of the ecological crisis.

More specifically, we commit ourselves as university students to the integral care for the planet, integral human development and concern for the poor through   testimonies, campus activities, outreach services, political and social involvements. Through our genuine commitment to fight against climate change brought about by neoliberal market forces, we will provide capacity building opportunities for our students to shape as global ecological citizens and adopt eco-friendly lifestyles. We also foster eco-spirituality which requires kindness, compassion, and empathy to heal our wounded planet.

We commit ourselves to work for global social justice and solidarity which the Gospels, Catholic Social Teachings and Laudato si’ as laid out by Pope Francis and dedicate our lives, work, energies and resources. Thus we commit ourselves to work relentlessly in campaigning against causes of climate change at the local, state, national and global level.

A call for collaboration towards a healthier planet

We emphasize the fact that networking is fundamental and important in the process of social change and the struggle for environmental justice. Hence we insist on the spirit of collaboration as a way of building more sustainable and integrated initiatives for a better future.

We call upon the business companies to look for new alternatives that can ensure the achievement of their objectives without any damage to the local environment and the dignity of local people. We invite the economic world for a responsible use of limited resources.

We invite all the ecological and environmental organizations to associate with us in order to implement innovative initiatives that can change the way communities create and keep healthy relations with The Mother Earth.

We call, all people of good will to join this global movement that can lead us towards a better future for which we can be proud of having tried our best to keep the earth as safe as God wants it to be from the beginning.


Education is a right. Not a commodity!

Written by Sheril Nimeshika Fernando – Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo (Sri Lanka University Catholic Students Movement – SLUCSM)


“The Great Roman Emperor Augustus once blew his own trumpet stating that he turned the brick laid Rome, in to marble laid Rome. On this occasion, please allow me to say this. I humbly tell you, I am responsible in giving Free Education to all. Remember all this time you got Education for a big price. You paid a very big sum. I opened a book, which was closed all this time. I opened the door of Education to the poor, which was once meant only for the so called Elite class of this country. It was once a right of HAVES only. I opened it to HAVE NOTS.”

Christopher William Wijekoon Kannangara, the great personality known as the “Father of Free Education in Sri Lanka” uttered these words of pride & accomplishment on 4th June 1944. It was on this day that he, as the first Minister of Education of Ceylon presented the Free Education Bill in the State Council marking a golden day in the annals of Education in Sri Lanka.Then began the social revolution of opening the doors of education to all children in Sri Lanka from primary level to the university.

Education is a right. Not a commodity!

The oxford dictionary defines education as the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university. That is education defined in its more restricted sense. In a much broader context education can be defined as a process, beginning at birth of developing intellectual capacity, manual skills and social awareness, especially by instruction. Education is an investment in a person’s future. It is the most powerful weapon one can use to change the world. Wisdom is the weapon to ward-off destruction. It is an inner fortress which enemies cannot destroy. In the words of Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is Power”. Power to live a decent life.Power to earn a decent income.Power that brings one respect and dignity. When knowledge can bestow the power for so many things, why should it be restricted to a few who have the advantage of wealth? Knowledge needs to be free for all those who deserve it, and what a person deserves should be decided by an individual’s capability and intelligence and not by wealth. The best and simplest way to disseminate knowledge to all those who deserve it, is through free education.

Concept of Central Colleges

Having realized the pivotal role of free education through the challenges that he himself faced in developing his capacities, C.W.W. Kannangaratried to make it possible for the young sons and daughters of Sri Lanka, to achieve their higher potential and to serve their motherland to the best of their ability.

When analyzing the Sessional paper 24 of 1943, the Report of the Special Committee of Education of which Kannagara was the chairperson, it can be noted that it covered two important aspects. Firstly, every individual must have equal opportunity, so that, provided he has the necessary innate ability, he can lift himself from the humblest to the highest position in the social, economic and political ladder. Secondly, Education in a democratic society should be free at all stages. Thereby, children were provided free education from kindergarten to university level in Sri Lanka.

The concept of Central Colleges, originated from his idea of equity that could cover all children, irrespective of the circumstances in to which they were born. Remarkably these Central Colleges he started produced some of the most brilliant Academics, Administrators and Professionals. The characteristic of this group was that they gave their best for the welfare and advancement of the motherland. The system initiated by Kannangara, produced, fortunately for Sri Lanka, a set of Leaders, who always put country beforeself.

Kannangara’s Central School concept was a great boon to the rural children. By 1941, there were 3 Central Schools. In 1945, it was increased to 35. By 1950, there were 50 Central Schools in the Island. Today, there are 57 Central Schools. During the Kannangara Era, every electorate had one Central School. This helped the rural children further their Education and enter Universities.

Present education system of Sri Lanka

Today, there are 10,390 government schools. The curriculum offered is approved by the Ministry of Education. Schooling is compulsory for children from 6 to 13 years of age. Education is state funded and offered free of charge at all levels, including the university level. The government also provides free textbooks to schoolchildren. Literacy rates and educational attainment levels rose steadily after Sri Lanka became an independent nation in 1948 and today the youth literacy rate stands at 97%. The medium of language could be Sinhala, Tamil or English. English is taught as a second language. Students sit the G.C.E. O/L (General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level) at the end of 11 years of formal education and G.C.E. A/L (Advanced Level) examination at the end of 13 years.

The education structure is divided into five parts: primary (grade 1-5), junior secondary (grade 6-9), senior secondary (grade 10-11), collegiate (grade 12-13) and tertiary(university).

State funded tertiary education

As of 2017, Sri Lanka has 15 universities, all of which are public institutions. These state universities recruit students, 60% by district quota& rest of the 40% by merit basis. The achievement of each student at G.C.E. A/L is assessed by a Z-Score which considers the difficulty level of each subject and gives a cumulative mark. Passing G.C.E. A/L examination with 3Ss (simple passes) is considered as the minimum eligibility criteria to enter a state university. Due to the poor expansion of state university system over the years & restricted facilities, admissions have become extremely competitive. So, only 18% of students who fulfill the aforementioned minimum criteria at GCE A/L get the opportunity to enter a state university to follow an undergraduate course in a specific field based on their Z-score.

Depending on the course a student chooses to follow a Certificate, a Diploma, or a Bachelor’s Degree is awarded at the end of the undergraduate programme. Certificates and diplomas are conferred after one or two years. A Bachelor’s Degree is earned after three years as a General Degree or after 4 years as a Special Degree.  A degree in Medicine is awarded after 5 years of study with an additional year of internship, which is compulsory.

District quota system

As the years went by Academics realized the original idea of “equal opportunity” is not properly implemented through Central Colleges alone as there were significant differences in resource division& educational facilities available. This was more evident in the process of recruiting students to universities for their tertiary education by G.C.E.A/LExamination. Thus district quota system was introduced in 1970s. This system provided means to both the unequal circumstances children would face at the level of secondary education & a practical solution to overcome it in the long term.

Firstly all the central colleges were not receiving the same amount of facilities & opportunities. So the childrenisland wide attending those schools were at a huge disadvantage when it came to national level examinations, specially the G.C.E. A/L examination which was the sole deciding factor to become eligible to get enrolled into a state university. Therefore a quota was allocated to each of the 25 districts depending on its population & its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country. Even though this was not a foolproof system it chose students who performed their level best at the entry examination under a given amount of facilities. Originally it was planned to gradually increase the GDP allocated for education & to abolish district quota system & recruit students purely on merit basis once all central colleges reach a baseline standard. Unfortunately over the years there has been no increment but a severe decline in allocating funds for education. The percentage of GDP allocated for education (primary, secondary & tertiary) used to be 3.5% in 1970s& has steadily declined to a mere1.8% by 2016.

Secondly district quota system was established as a solution to the unequal resource division itself. The idea wasto produce qualified personnel from peripheries of Sri Lanka by providing them with a quality, state funded university education and to send them back to their hometowns as professionals instead of pooling them in & around well-developed cities which already had access to professional services. Thereby minimize the discriminations children & people as a whole would face by being born in a rural area of the country. Although the district quota system has not addressed the unequal resource division in all sectors with regard to differences in access to professional services, it has produced some excellent results in certain sectors like health care. Being categorized as a developing country Sri Lanka has best primary health care indices (maternal mortality rate, infant mortality rate, vaccine coverage etc) in South East Asia which could even compete with that of developed countries. World Health Organization recommends Sri Lanka’s maternal & child health care model for developing countries since it is cost effective &works well at grass route level. This is due to availability of professional health care even at peripheries. (The credit of this achievement should go not only to the district quota system but also to the free health care system)

Private education

At primary & secondary level in addition to the Government Schools there are 33 non-fee-levying assisted private schools and 33 fee-levying autonomous private schools. These schools offer the local syllabus as well as the British system. There is another category of English medium International Schools approved and registered by the Board of Investment, Sri Lanka. Some international schools offer the curriculum for the IB Diploma while others coach students for the EdexcelG.C.E. Ordinary Level (O/L) Advanced Subsidiary (A/S) and Advanced Level (A2) examinations. A few schools offer the curriculum for the Cambridge Examinations as well.

Combined with the facts that securing a place at a state university is extremely competitive & those who take the British examinations are not permitted to apply for admission for state universities, private sector has seen the opportunity & stepped in to provide fee levying tertiary education since 1980s. At present Sri Lanka has 16 private universities registered under University Grants Commission as undergraduate degree awarding institutions. Although private higher education institutes have been there for nearly 30 years, over time they have given rise to many issues notably with private medical colleges.

Private medical education, NCMC& SAITM

The first well established private medical college of Sri Lanka was the North Colombo Medical College (NCMC) which was started as a non-profit institute by the College of General Practitioners of Sri Lanka. At the beginning NCMC maintained proper standards & Sri Lanka Medical Council recognized this medical degree. Yet within 4-5 years since its inception its transparency in student admission process & the standards deteriorated & it also threatened standards of state medical colleges by attracting teaching staff for better wages & better facilities. All these gave rise to a university student up rise demanding the government to nationalize NCMC so that university entrance would be purely based on merit &not one’s buying ability. Due to continuous pressure by the student body, doctors & other professionals government was forced to nationalize NCMC but at the expense of thousands of young lives. Their sacrifice to safeguard free education was not in vain as today Faculty of Medicine, Ragama (formerly known as NCMC) which is state funded & enrolls around 150 students each year purely on merit basis.

Today we see history repeating itself with the present crisis situation in Sri Lanka’s higher education & health sectors arisen due to an ill-conceived, self-proclaimed private medical college named SAITM (South Asian Institute of Technology & Medicine). Since its inception in 2009 this institution has acted fraudulently both academically & financially. Due to its substandard training, to this date it has not obtained Sri Lanka Medical Council recognition. Although a medical college cannot exist without that country’s medical council recognition, SAITM has prevailed for 8 years with the backing of corrupt politicians & misusing the loopholes in legal provisions while authorities have taken no legal action against this illegal institution. SAITM started “selling” a degree in medicine at LKR 6 million (USD 40,000) & within 8 years the price has shot up to LKR 12 million (USD 80,000). So basically, medical education being a field of highest demand, SAITM is targeting the “customers” who have a dream of becoming doctors but couldn’t fulfill their dream following the established system. The fact that a country’s medical education is designed to uplift the health status of the country & not to fulfill anyone’s dream of becoming a doctor has become irrelevant. Also the fact that 42% of Sri Lankans have a daily income of less than USD 2 (According to Central Bank Reports of 2016) & they would never be able to enter a private medical college like SAITM, has been purposefully forgotten.

This issue has given rise to a discussion about pros & cons of private higher education among university students, academics & citizens of Sri Lanka as a whole. Being a nation which benefited immensely by the products of free education, it is of paramount importance to analyze this issue intelligently.

Arguments for private university education 

The most popular argument is that private tertiary education, gives an opportunity to everyone to make themselves educated in a particular field, be employed, spend a decent life& be a part of the work force of the country. When this fact is taken into account in isolation, it appears rational. But when it is considered in the present context of the country, it is not so. In the recent past Sri Lankans citizens had to witness a child who hanged himself to death because he didn’t have shoes to wear to school, a child who had to steal from neighbourhood houses to collect money to pay for colour washing his class room, a girl who sold her body to strangers to find tuition fees, a mother who committed suicide because she couldn’t afford the cost of books of her school going child etc. Apart from these tragic incidents government has officially stated that there are more than fifty thousand school dropouts in the recent past. So when primary, secondary & college education are facing this many issues even when these are provided free of charge, will privatizing university education solve any of these or will it worsen the problems further? Will any of the above mentioned children be able to afford high costs of private tertiary education?

Then one can argue that at least the proportion of citizens who can afford the private education will benefit from it & therefore private & free education can co-exist giving the citizen the right to choose either of the two. But once something is privatized & opened into the market it cannot stagnate in one place. Rather it has to spread further & further which would at one point consume the non-profit oriented government institutions. In simple terms state funded universities would go for a natural death by promoting private universities & education will no longer be a right but a commodity.

It is also said that the government in a developing country is unable to fund the free education system to a level where all students are given the opportunity to study free of charge from kindergarten to university. Considering only 18% of students who fulfill the minimum criteria at G.C.E. A/L become eligible to enter state universities, this argument seems true at its face value. Arguably if a country spends more on free university education there is an opportunity cost of higher taxes or less spending elsewhere. Yet, there is a greater social benefit & it provides the country with a skilled, intelligent work force in the long run. Even today a major demand by both university students & lecturers is to increase the percentage of GDP allocated for education to 6% which is not an unreasonably high value. This will allow the state universities to expand gradually to provide free tertiary education to all.This should be a prime responsibility of a civilized government if itis to prioritizethe citizen needs.

Another wide spread misconception is that free education violates the freedom of education by depriving the students of their right to follow a course of study of their choice. As previously mentioned in this article knowledge needs to be free for all those who deserve it and what a person deserves should be decided by an individual’s capability and intelligence and not by wealth. So every student will not be able to follow their choice of study if there’s a discrepancy between what they like & what they are capable of. So free education system will differentiate these students based on their ability. But differentiation is not discrimination. The real discrimination will be depriving a capable student of obtaining tertiary education due to his inability to pay for it.

Some people suggest scholarship schemes for ones who cannot afford private education while the rest pay for their education. Although scholarships are intended for the disadvantaged few, the disadvantaged aren’t just few in Sri Lankan context. Scholarships help only a handful, for others providing free education would come as a great relief.

Is free education better?

The society is more divided by wealth than by any other criteria. There is the unbelievably rich few, the very rich, the middle income group, the poor, and those in utter poverty. And amidst all this are impoverishment, unemployment, and destitution. How can anyone think of spending money on education, when they do not have money for food and shelter? However, education is the remedy for all these ills that plague the society. Education is the only means that can open up the doors that lead to employment, and through it food, shelter and better quality of life. Therefore, providing free education to the deserving ensures that at-least the future generation can step through these doors to a better living.

Providing free education would enable students to concentrate on learning and gaining more through the education, instead of struggling with the payment of tuition fees and meeting other expenses. When the focus shifts to learning it leads to empowerment of the youth to work towards an increasingly intellectual society.

Free education would lead to more educated people. More educated people in the society leads to overall improvement in the quality of life in the society. Through better employment and elimination of the struggle for basic needs, people would concentrate on the higher aspects of life, such as improving administration and management of issues that impact the society in general. Therefore free education would have a very positive impact on the overall quality and thinking in the society.

More educated people would mean better governance from the grassroots to the national level. Educated people would make better choices in electing their representatives and are better equipped to question corruption and misuse of power. Therefore, education is not only the remedy for the ills of unequal wealth, but also the remedy for the ills that plague our administration and governments. By making education free, we prod our society towards the path of better governance.

Intelligence and talent are not the forte of the wealthy alone. There is lot of untapped and undiscovered talent and intelligence lying covered under impoverishment and destitution. Free education opens the doors of opportunities to these talented people. Through free education, we can ensure that the talented and intelligent can gain the assurance of a better tomorrow through maximizing their academic potentials.

Free education would be beneficial to those who deserve it, as well as, to the society as a whole. Where everybody is talking about equal and better opportunities, the prospects of a better future should not be lost due to lack of equal opportunities for education.

Let me conclude this article with a famous quote which is applicable not only for today but for tomorrow & generations to come.

“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

~ Victor Hugo, Les Misérables


01. C.W.W.Kannangara – Father of Free Education


  1. The Educational System of Sri Lanka


03.නිදහස් අධ්‍යාපනය රැක ගත යුත්තේ ඇයි?


04.Benefits of Free Education




06.Should university education be free?


07.පිස්සු කෙළපු ති‍්‍රමාලා හා වැඬේ ගොඩ දාගත්තු ධම්මිකලාගේ කතා වස්තුව


APNFS Workshop on TNC Investment in Agriculture: Trends and Impacts

Written by Ms Anne Beatrice – IMCS Asia Pacific Lay Chaplain, Directress of North South Initiative Malaysia


On the 25 to 27 February 2017,Asia Pacific Networks on Food Sovereignty (APNFS) conducted a regional workshop on TNC Investment in Agriculture: Trends and Impacts in Caloocan City, Philippines. IMCS AP coordinator Ravi Tissera and Chaplin Ms Anne Beatrice attended this workshop.

In current time, where the agro chemical companies controls the food system, they begin to produce seeds that need their chemicals and genetically engineered crops that tolerate pesticides ensuring continues sales and profit for them. 95% of the seeds and fertiliser are controlled by only 10 companies and with this control over land, water and coastal area resources are taken by them which led to increasingly control over food production and entire food supply chain.

Dr Rene Ofreneo presented key note on the trends in Agriculture Investment and Impacts where he addressed on Neo liberal “food security”.

The key points which came out from panel discussion on TNC Investment and Resource Grabbing: Impacts, Remedies and Actions were Gender Impact Assessment, land grabbing and land usage for industrial crop leads lesser food production which effects the whole food chain. This push out small holder from own farming and leads them to work in contract farming and low wages.  These also threatens local industries and local food crop.

Following this, the APNFS members shared their initiatives to curb the corporate control of food and agriculture by doing some direct action such as Global campaign against Monsanto,

Human Rights Situation in Sri Lanka

Written by Budi Tjahjono – Indonesian, Former President of IMCS from 1999 to 2003, currently Asia Pacific Programme Coordinator of Franciscans Internationa, basedl in Geneva, Switzerland.

In March 2017, one of the key human rights issues addressed during the UN Human Rights Council (UN HRC) in Geneva is the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. The country has gone through difficult situation especially the tension between the Sinhalese dominated government and Tamil minority. The arm conflict ended in 2009 with tens of thousands of civilians killed during the last phase of the war. They were trapped during the conflict between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Sri Lankan military. The decades conflict also resulted in thousands of went missing persons. There has been allegation of war crimes against the former president Mahinda Rajapaksa and LTTE.

The UN HRC has been addressing this issue since 2009 until today. One of the landmarks is the HRC Resolution 30/1 in 2015 on Transitional Justice in Sri Lanka. The new government, installed in 2015, promised to the UN and the international community to bring reconciliation and justice for the victims and agreed to involve international judges and lawyers as part of the process.  However, two years have gone, and the fulfillment of the promises by the Sri Lankan government has been “worryingly slow”, to the disappointment of most of the victims and international community. Issues of missing persons, land occupation by the military, surveillance, intimidation and threats to human rights defenders are not properly addressed. Victims and NGOs have been pressuring the immediate implementation of Transitional Justice. This comes up in the adoption of UN HRC Resolution in 2017 which two more years to Sri Lanka to fulfill its promises and obligations.

The situation of human rights in Sri Lanka is part of my work in Franciscans International. Personally, I have been involved on the UN advocacy work on Sri Lanka for several years now.  Intense negotiations with diplomats, series of public conferences, giving voice to victims, their family and human rights defenders, delivering statements are part of the activities I have been doing at the UN Human Rights Council. The objective is to put international pressures to Sri Lankan government to fulfill its obligation in protecting and promoting human rights.

My involvement on this issue is not only by chance. As a member of Pax Romana, and a former leader of IMCS, the human rights situation in Sri Lanka has always been part of my personal commitment. This goes back in 1998 during an IMCS regional meeting in Tagaytay, in the Philippines, when I met Ruki Fernando (who was part of IYCS Asia Team). He was one of the first Sri Lankan I met.  Thank to opportunity I received from IMCS, I continue my friendship with him. It has helped me very significantly in my advocacy work on Sri Lanka, including during the difficult time when he was arrested by the Sri Lanka security, and later released through the international outcry.

The issue of Sri Lanka is one of many examples in which Pax Romana (both IMCS and ICMICA) has allowed me to meet other human rights defenders from many countries. At international level, I have come across many outstanding defenders and civil society leaders from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, West Papua who are part of Pax Romana network. One of the key values we all share as members of Pax Romana is that we put the victims at the center of the advocacy work and we are inspired by the Social Teaching of the Church. And I believe that this tradition will continue by the next generation, who are now are the active members of IMCS.

Battle  For  Lands  – All India Catholic Undergraduate Federation (AICUF) JHARKAND

As we know, land is the one and only source of livelihood to the ingenious people and with the loss of land they will loose their economic independence. They will be compelled to depend on the outsiders who are trying to exploit them in many ways. The indigenous communities are deprived of their land if land is taken away from them which also means they are deprived of life. Agriculture is the only source of livelihood for the tribes. Apart from a natural asset, land is imperishable endowment from which these communities derive sustenance, social status, and permanent place of abode and source of work. In addition they lose their freedom, language, customs, way of life and their distinct identity and if forced to migrate to a different place, lose their status as Scheduled Tribes. Thus the displacement of indigenous people amounts to ethnocide and annihilation of the most disadvantaged group of the society.

                                      Through displacements, human rights and the constitutional rights are being violated blatantly, though the 5th and the 6th schedules of the constitution of India was meant to protect the indiginious communities and the Governor is accountable to the Government and the people as the guardian of these communities.  Has the government courage to and will to comply with this land-tribe relationship? What have the state and central government done? They have deprived millions of indigenous people from their land thoughtlessly. The proposed pilot project in Netarhat area in Jharkhand will require displacement of people of a great magnitude, even bigger than that of sardar sarovar dam with consequent untold human misery, and nearly 90% of the victims being ingenious people. The question is of the double standard and the hypocrisy. On the one hand the tribals are being discriminated against and on the other, despite the constitutional provision, overtly purported to be the for the protection of indigenous people, these are being consciously and conveniently violated. The result is before everyone to see. More than 18.2 million Indigenous people have already been displaced without any qualms and scruples in the name of ‘development’ and ‘national interest’.  It is the time for the government for self-introspection and the duty to reverse the dangerous and inhuman policy of indiscriminate displacement of Indigenous people. Towards protecting of Indigenous people who are under the threat of displacement, effective steps need to be ensured as per the provisions of Vth schedule to the Constitution on schedules areas ans the PESA Act 1996.
The survey of land had started in the year 1993 but it was put on hold because of stiff and non-voilent resistance of the affected people. The field firing area of the old Netarhat field firing range was about 38 but the the newly notified area is 1471 There are sixteen high schools and three colleges in the notified area. There are atleast 7 Block development areas and growth centres, which will be affected by Netarhat field firing range. What are Central and State government upto in notifying such an areas asnotified area of firing range. The entire notified area of 1471 of the Netarhat field firing range is the ‘sacred habitat of the tribals. The said area contains hundreds of Sarnas(place of worship of the tribals), churches,graveyards and exclusive habitat of the primitive tribeswhich are on the verge of is their ‘ancestral domain’, which is considered to be a pre-condition for their survival.
The district administration have never visited the firing range to listen to the woes of the people during the last thirty years, yet they were found willing, contrary to give clean chit to the army. At present, the district administration are looking for the leaders for their detention under any pretext as and when necessary. The D.C. of Gumla has even branded the non-voilent peoples’ movement as an extremist movement. That is indicative of the manipulation, co-potion and subversion of the administration to suit the army against a non-voilent movement of the people .A disinformation campaign has started.  Above all, the attitudes and the utterances of the administration smacks deep conspiracy at some level. From all indications, it appears that some political forces, to serve their own covert objectives, have hijacked the field firing range. To them ‘nationalism’ means  complete subjugation their wierd ideology and those not subscribing to it are, according to them , renegades, traitors and anti-nationals, fir to be harassed, attacked and destroyed. Thousands of tribals from this area served and are still serving in the army as valiant soldiers in protecting the nation. A dangerous game play is emerging in Netarhat field firing range.

22nd -23rd March, 2017(Netarhat Field Firing Range Protest)

Netarhat is a town in Latehar district, 156 kms west of Ranchi in Indian state of Jharkhand. Referred to as the “Queen of Chottanagpur”, it is a popular hill station. Place is famous for its glorious sunrises and sunsets during the summer months. It is a place of tourist interest.
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We started our trip from 22nd March from Ranchi with 400 aicufers from different units, Advisor Fr. Vinod Bilung, full timer JohnPankaj Kujur, our state team and National Advisor Fr. Emmanuel S.J., National Full timer Alban Dickqrose and West Bengal aicufers as guest participants. Travelling for approx. 5 hours we reached the protest site where programme had already started. We made place for ourselves to settle on site ground surrounded with blossoming Sal trees. In wake of the proposal to develop the periodic field firing as a permanent pilot project people were visibly restless.this time protest has acquired additional significance since it was the 25th anniversary of the protest marked by the presence of thousand of villagers. The historic Netarhat resolve has since thrived with rare vitality and determination. Anniversary celebration of the event was held at dharna site with seamless discipline to express peoples’ firm resolve.
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In evening we had a group planning on nukkad which was to be performed by aicufers the next day and we also practised some awareness songs to regenerate the mood of protest.  For supper we had what villagers served us. At night our bed was the ground with rocks and our blanket was an open sky full of stars. Programme continued till late night though the atmosphere was growing cold. At night they showed documentary ‘Kiski raksha’ which is based on Netarhat field firing range and shows the plight of villagers. This documentary has been filmed by Biju Toppo for which he has received national award also.
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We rose early morning to freshen ourselves in the dam which was at distance, after that we went to sunrise point to enjoy the beautiful of sceneric sunrise. We had our breakfast in market and went back to protest site. Programme started at 8am in the morning i.e.23rd March. There were many student groups present including aicuf. Brave tribal ladies marshalled the show, when army Lorries strayed in the firing spot during March 1994 dharna. The disillusioned troops had to retreat. Womens indomitable grit since then became the lifeblood of Netarhat movement. Through years they have demonstrated much more consistency than men. From fiercly powerful orators to grass root workers, the movement has them all. Various resource persons were invited were invited and engaged to provide with necessary information. That may be one of the reasons that political parties could not hijack the movement despite repeated attempts..  Though this year some politicians like Babulal Marandi, Charles Marandi etc. were also invited as speakers.  The hot issue of Jharkhand now is ‘Jharkhand Momentum’ which is again a kind of plot by government to acquse the land of aadiwasis. On 27th, March Chief Minister Raghuvar Das along with investorsis coming to see the land of Netarhat for their dream projects. Now the people are so alert and informed about their problem that they can make appropriate decisions and moves on their own.Aicuf took the stage for performing Nukkad (street play) based on the all the plights faced by  tribals and again we took chance to sing awareness songs and shout aloud naraas(slogans) mesmerizing all the villagers present. Before the end of this protest ceremony there was a small protest rally all joined together shouting aloud naaras in unifying voice like jaan denge jameen nahi (we will lay down our lives but not part with our land)denge, ham hamara haq maangte nahi kisi se bheekh maangte(we are asking for our rights not for alms), jal jungle jameen hamara hai(water, land ,forest is ours),abua dishum abua raj (our rule on our land),jai aadiwasi etc. There was an oath taking also in which we were determined to fight for ancestral motherland until this Netarhat field firing range pilot project is deactivated or taken back.
Written by Alban Dickrose – National Coordinator AICUF