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Goethals News Bulletin
Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, Kolkata
Vol. XIII No. 1 Bulletin January - March 2010

News Update | Articles | Researchers | New Arrivals | Mails & Emails


Cradle of Excellence

The Prime Minister on Saturday (16th January 2010) lauded St Xavier's Kolkata for providing “progressive all-round education” to the students cutting across all faiths. “I am honoured to be in these august environs that have produced many great sons of India,” Manmohan Singh said at the closing ceremony of the 150-years celebration at St Xavier's. “The Jesuit Fathers helped those they taught to become well-rounded and cultured human beings. Their students were given the great gift of rational thought. This I think is the most important reason why St. Xavier's has sent forth to the world so many outstanding citizens of India who have become leaders in their respective fields. India does not need blind faith. We need rational thinking and a scientific temper to counter dogmas and ideologies,” stressed the Prime Minister.

Thousands comprising Fathers, teachers, students and alumni/ae of St. Xavier's Collegium had converged on the Park Street campus on Saturday afternoon. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, Governor Devanand Konwar, Fr. Provincial George Pattery, Rector Fr. George Ponodath, Fr. Felix Raj (Principal of the college) and Fr. Jerome Francis (Principal of the school) were on the dais.

Singh paid homage to the Jesuit Fathers who “familiarised themselves” with Indian languages and customs. “I have been told by some alumni of St Xavier's that they were taught by Belgian Jesuit priests who were erudite not only in European culture but also in Sanskrit and Bengali. ”He referred to the luminaries the institution has produced, such as J.C. Bose and “Gurudev” Rabindranath Tagore, and “another very distinguished old boy of St Xavier's and a great son of India”, Jyoti Basu, the Prime Minister said. On behalf of St Xavier's — “its students, its teachers and the Reverend Fathers” - Aveek Sarkar presented “a part of the school's history” to the Prime Minister. The Xavier's old boy referred to Singh as “India's first Jesuit Prime Minister” because “he has fought against the grain of accepted knowledge and conventional wisdom”. The gift was a painting by Paresh Maity capturing Tagore's moving piece about his teacher (during his brief stint as a student in Xavier's about 100 years ago), a Spanish priest called Father Peneranda.

Praising Xavier's for its “inclusive approach” to education, Singh highlighted his government's attempt to ensure universal access to education for achieving inclusive growth. “I wish to see every child in our country becoming literate over the next decade. We must aim for 100 per cent literacy across India,” he stressed. Singh hoped that “children in future” did not have to endure what he had gone through — “walk miles to go to school”. The chief minister expressed the hope that the proposed second campus of the college, set to come up off the Bypass, would start functioning soon. Highlighting the Jesuit philosophy, Father Ponodath said: “Education for us is not a profession, it's a vocation…. It's a prayer. Students are not just numbers, but precious gifts given to us.” The spirit of the institution's motto Nihil Ultra (Nothing Beyond) was exemplified by a choir comprising school and college kids singing “Seemar majhe aseem tumi”, orchestrated by alumnus Debojyoti Mishra.

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Plaudits for excellence

“In India, higher education is either a money-spinning business or a moth-eaten system,” said Union home minister P. Chidambaram, speaking on the plight of young people seeking higher education in India. He was attending the third convocation and valedictory programme of St. Xavier's College on Sunday. The programme was a part of the concluding ceremony of the 150-year celebration of the institution. Also present on the occasion were Fr. Provincial George Pattery, the Principal of St. Xavier's College, Fr. Felix Raj and former principal of the college, Fr. P. C. Mathew. Chidambaram also gave away the Nihil Ultra Award of Honour for excellence in service to Fr. Mathew, the award for 25 years of service to Fr. Felix Raj and Professor Ashis Siddhanta. “Only 11 to 12 per cent of school-leaving children find a place in a college or university against a world average of 45 per cent,” said Chidambaram. The promise of universalisation of school education will remain unfulfilled, Chidambaram said, if higher education is neglected. “How are we to find teachers for our schools, or harness technology to provide quality school education to children in the farthest corners of our country without higher education?” he asked. Chidambaram divided higher education providers into two groups: one that produces graduates who “at the end of three or five years, are no more educated than when they first enrolled” and the other for which education is commerce.

“But in this dreary world, we have shining examples like St Xavier's College,” he added. Speaking on private and public participation in education, Chidambaram said that private participation cannot be at the cost of compromising quality. “We are still debating the norms that should prevail in higher educational institutions, especially the role of the private sector. The role of the private sector in higher education ought not to be private business.” Speaking of the state of higher education in the state, the vice-chancellor of Calcutta University, Suranjan Das, one of the guests, pointed out that despite the impressive growth in higher education, the need of the hour was to resolve dichotomies between central and state universities.

Prayer meet On January 18, the school and college students of St Xavier's organised a multi-religious prayer meet, where representatives from Christian, Hindu, Sikh, Zoroastrian and Muslim communities read out from their scriptures, explaining the relation of the passages to education.

Holy Mass On January 19, St. Xavier's College organised a Holy Mass, presided over by Cardinal Telespore Toppo, the Archbishop of Ranchi, as part of the institution's sesquicentennial celebrations.

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Bengal Mission completes 150 years
By Julian Das

Jesuits celebrated the 150 years of Bengal mission paying rich tributes to Belgian missioners, who came to Kolkata as teachers during British colonial days.

Cardinal Telesphore Toppo of Ranchi joined some 2,000 people for the jubilee Mass on Nov. 28. He compared the Belgian missionaries to Abraham of the Old Testament, who left his country to go to the land the Lord had shown him. The missionaries get the courage to venture into many regions because the Spirit of God accompanies them, he said during the homily. Four Belgian and three English Jesuits landed on the shores of Ganges in the then Calcutta port on Nov. 28, 1859. The Bengal Mission they began, now lays spread in states of West Bengal, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand, and Bihar and Orissa, comprising two Archdioceses, 21 Dioceses, and seven Jesuit Provinces.

The jubilee celebrations included a symposium on the social and educational contribution of Jesuits to eastern India, an exhibition on the growth of the Bengal Mission. Ten Bishops and eight Jesuit Provincial Superiors from the former Bengal mission joined the programs. The Jesuit Provincial of South Asia Father Edward Mudavassery, while paying tribute to Jesuit contribution to Bengal invited them not to bask in the past glory, but get ready to boldly face current challenges.

The Belgian missionaries have contributed a lot to the development of the tribal communities in erstwhile Bengal, especially looking after the Santal tribals, who are marginalized in all ways, said Naresh Gupta. Mr. Gupta, secretary of the National Jesuit Alumni Association of India, told the symposium that the greatest contribution of the Jesuits in Bengal is in the field of education. He wanted the Jesuits to widen their scope of service, and focus on providing quality health care facilities, which is a neglected area in the country, and especially in Bengal. For Sadhana Korali, the Yugoslavian and later Belgian Jesuits had worked hard to build the Christian communities in the district of 24 Parganas, and the Church in Baruipur diocese owes much to their hard work. From 1925 to 1950, 18 Yugoslavian Jesuits worked in Bengal Mission, all of them assigned to missions in the present diocese of Baruipur. Korali, who teaches in Jesuit-run St Paul's High School in Raghapur, said about 50 percent Christian youths in the district are educated, thanks to the Jesuit missioners.

Snehashish Sur, a TV journalist, hailed the Belgian Jesuits' value-based education and discipline.

He said he was surprised when Belgian Father Gerard Beckers started living in a Santal area after retiring from St. Xavier's College. “He moved around in a bicycle, and that was truly exemplary,” he added.

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Fr. Raj Completes a Year

A get-together was held to celebrate Father Felix Raj's completion of one year as Principal of St Xavier's College and President of SXCCAA.
By Palak Gupta


A get-together to celebrate Father Felix Raj's completion of one year as the principal of St Xavier's College and President of the St Xavier's College Alumni Association was organised by former SXCAA secretary, Firdausul Hassan and his wife Hasnu on February 24 at the International Club.

The evening commenced with the vice-chancellor of Calcutta University felicitating Father Principal and conveying his good wishes.

“This is an exceptional occasion. It is a good attempt on the part of the alumni to maintain regular touch with the institution. Such events help to maintain legacy and heritage,” shared the mayor, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya who felicitated Father Raj with a bouque.

Bickram Ghosh said on the occasion,” I know Father for the past 25 years. We were his first rowdy batch in 1984. He is a wonderful man and he has taken up the reins very well. Like me he has also had a long journey.”

Police commissioner, Gautam Mohan Chakravarthy, said, “I passed out of the college in 1973, but the family is so close knit that my heart is still there.”

Courtesy : kolkata.mirror@gmail.com

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Students Remember Fr. Babu
By Julian Das


Three years after a Jesuit priest's death, his former students and associates have decided to keep alive his ideals through various social activities. Some 80 people, including Jesuits, met on Dec. 9 at St. Xavier's College, Kolkata, to observe Jesuit Father Gerard Beckers' death anniversary. The college, based in the capital of West Bengal state, decided to observe the occasion as “Rededication day.” Principal Father Felix Raj told UCA News Dec. 10 the meeting was the first gathering of past and present students to remember a Jesuit teacher in the college. Belgium-born Father Beckers had initiated social outreach programs in the Jesuit-run college where he taught chemistry for 25 years. He came to India in 1954 and became an Indian citizen in 1978. He died at the age of 82.

Father Beckers was “a force” in the college, without occupying any top posts, Father Raj said. The principal said Father Beckers encouraged his students to get involved in social activities by opening units of National Service Scheme and All India Catholic University Federation in the college. He also started Ananda Bhavan (bliss-home), a hostel for tribal boys, and the Students Health Home.

Father Raj said the college viewed the meeting as an occasion to dedicate to the late priest's social concerns. Father Beckers' “revolutionary spirit and love for transformation” are alive among his students and associates who fondly called him “Babu,” a respectful but friendly term, he explained. Father Beckers donated his eyes to an NGO, and body to a government hospital for medical research. When alive, Father Beckers donated blood for more than a hundred times, Father Raj said. Snehasis Sur, secretary of St. Xavier's College Alumni Association who organized the program along with the NSS, said people touched by Father Beckers' dedication wanted to emulate his example.

Sur, a television journalist, said the Jesuit's death anniversary offered his students, associates and friends a chance to examine their commitment to the socially neglected and marginalized people.

His former students have begun building infrastructural facilities such as houses and roads in the priest's memory for the survivors of a cyclone at Bolakhali in the state's North 24 Parganas district. They have launched emergency disaster management in the affected areas.

The alumni association has set up a separate scholarship for tribal students of the college, especially for their board and lodging, he added. Meghnath Bhattacharya, 65, who came from Ranchi, capital of neighboring Jharkhand state, told the meeting that his students often ask him why he related with them differently. “I tell them it was because Babu related to me differently,” he added.

Bhattacharya, a documentary film maker on social issues, said Babu taught him to “keep on registering the minority voice” against social injustice and violence, and to “stand against the wave.”

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Kolkata Book Fair remembers Jesuits' press

Former students of St. Xavier's College, a premier Jesuit-run institution in Kolkata, have paid tribute to India's first printing press that the Jesuits set up.

They helped erect the replica of the gate of the College of St. Paul in Goa at the popular Kolkata Book Fair . The Jesuits in Goa had set up India's first printing press in 1556.

Since the book fair deals with printing, it is appropriate to pay tribute to the Jesuits who set up the first press, said Snehasis Sur, secretary of St. Xavier's College Alumni Association.

The 10-day book fair is regarded as the largest attended book fair in India. Media reports say more than two million people visit it annually.

Sur said the effort was undertaken to mark the completion of 150 years of St. Xavier's College and 25 years of the alumni.

He said most people are unaware that Jesuit missioners began printing in India. The replica of the gate of St. Paul's College will educate people of the Jesuit contribution, he added.

In 1542, Saint Francis Xavier, who was based in Goa at the time, requested the King of Portugal to send printing presses for India, Ethiopia and Japan. The ships sailing to Ethiopia had to pass through Goa since the Suez Canal was not in existence then.
When the Jesuits in Goa received news that the King of Ethi-opia was not keen on receiving the missioners with the printing press, it was setup at the college in Goa.

Sur, a journalist with a national television channel, said the College of St. Paul, began in 1542, was abandoned when a plague ravaged Goa in 1570, but the gate still stands as a historic witness to the first college the Jesuits built in India.

The replica of the gate at the book fair also is to acknowledge the Jesuits' educational service to the nation, Sur told UCA News.

The alumni association has also setup a stall at the book fair with literature, books, photos of and on Calcutta Jesuits and their institutions. The gate of the College of St. Paul stands at one of the main entrances to the fair.

At the stall, visitors can read literature on the College of St. Paul, and appreciate the works of the Jesuits, said Sunil Ghorai, who manages the stall. Ghorai said this was the first time that the Jesuits had found a place at the annual fair.

“This is the only stall where Christian literature” including the Holy Bible in Bengali, lectionaries, lives of saints, is available at the fair, and “there is a lot of enthusiasm among visitors,” he said. He added that more than 300 people visited the stall on the first day.

You will be glad to know that the "Beyond Boundaries-I" the First International Convention of the St. Xavier's College (Calcutta) Alumni Association (SXCCAA) will take place on 22-23 May 2010 at Bangkok, Thailand as the Bangkok Chapter has kindly consented to be the host.

Fr. Felix Raj, SJ, Principal of St. Xavier's College and President of the SXC Alumni Association will preside over the convention. Apart from two International Seminars in which eminent industrial leaders are to address, there will be a meeting of the Representatives of all the Chapters (Bangkok, Dubai, Singapore, Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai) on their future functioning and action plan. There will also be a musical extravaganza.

Around 300 delegates are expected to reach Bangkok by 21st May evening. A package for travel and stay is worked out. You can travel with your family and can extend your trip after the convention.

For further details kindly contact Mr. Firdausul Hasan, 9831096308; sxccaa.cal@gmail.com or Mr. Harsh Agarwal, (Bangkok) +66818883484 harsh72@gmail.com

The "Universidad Ibero-americana" of Mexico City will host the World Meeting of the Presidents (Principals) of the Jesuit Universities and Colleges on April 22-25, 2010. Fr. General and Fr. Paul Locatelli, higher Education Secretary of the SJ will be present at the meeting.

"Shaping the Future: Jesuit Higher Education in the Globalizing World" is the theme for the meeting. The new context of globalization and humanization as well as the Identity and Mission will be the focus points for this first meeting of Fr. Aldolfo Nicolas with the Jesuit Presidents and Principals of Jesuit Universities and Colleges.

Around 20 Principals and 5 lay Professors are expected to attend from India. Fr. Felix Raj, SJ and Prof. Ashis Mitra will represent SXC, Kolkata.

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Donation of Book

The Library thanks Mr. Paul Mantosh for the Donation of some of the old copies of “THE REVIEW”- Anglo-Indian Magazine. The library is grateful to him.

We thank Mr. Sandeep Singh for the donation of the 'Business of Freedom – An Initiative For School Of Indian Management' written by Sandeep Singh and edited by Ratan Sharda.

We thank Mr. Bidyarthi Dutta for the book 'That is an Art – Sketches of an Artist'. The library is grateful to him.

We are thankful for the book History of the 'Bengal' Mission 1859-1920 by Henri Josson, SJ, Translated from the French by A. Huart, SJ and L. Clarysse, SJ.

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Videography and Photography

Dr. Minoti Chatterje with her team from EMMRC had visited the library and had video recorded and photographed documents on Old Park Street for a UGC Project.

Prof. Ashijit Ganguli had visited the Library with his team of photographers to prepare a documentary on Fr. Eugene Lafont and Dr. Mahendralal Sarkar.

Books at the Kolkata Book Fair – The Alumni Association of SXC had booked a Stall at the Annual Book Fair at the Milan Mela Ground. The Goethals Library had the opportunity to display and Free distribute the latest Goethals News, the Goethals Library Directory, the list of Daniells Paintings and many more journals and magazines of the college.

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New Books in the Library

Beyond Borders : A Global Perspective of Jesuit Mission History, Ed. By Shinzo Kawamura and Cyril Veliath, Sophia University Press, Tokyo, 2009.

Bibliography of Christians of Bengal, 1715-1991 A.D. Comp. and Ed. By Boniface Subrata Gomes, Pratibeshi Prakashani, Dhaka, 2009.

Business of Freedom, by Sandeep Singh, Ed. By Ratan Sharda, Vishwa Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2008.

Emergence of New Social Structure in Jalpaiguri District (1865-1947), by Shesadri Prosad Bose, Readers Service, Kolkata, 2008.

History of The 'Bengal' Mission 1859 to 1920, by Henri Josson, Tr. By A. Huart, SJ and L. Clarysse, Gujarat Sahitya Prakash, Gujarat, 2009.

Jeanne Jugan: Humble So As To Love More, By Paul Milcent Tr. By Alan Neame, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, Great Britain, 2000.

Lung Cancer Update – 2009, Ed. By A. K. Dewan, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute & Research Centre, Delhi, 2009.

NGOs in the Human Right Movement, by Kaushlendra Mishra, Navyug Publishers and Distributors, New Delhi, 2008.

Ramakrishna And Christ, By Hans Torwesten, Tr. By John Phillips, The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture, Culcutta, 1999.

Sannyasi And Fakir Raiders in Bengal, by Rai Sahib Jamini Mohan Ghosh, Punthi Pustak, Kolkata, 2010.

That is an Art : Sketches of an Artist, by Bidyarthi Dutta, Pijushalok, Kolkata, 2009.

Vedic River Saravati And Hindu Civilization, Ed. By S. Kalya-naraman, Aryan Books International, New Delhi, 2008.

White & Black: Journey to the centre of Imperial Calcutta, By Soumitra Das, Niyogi Books, New Delhi, 2009.

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Researchers at Goethals

Ashijit Ganguli, EMMRC Kolkata, on Fr. Eugene Lafont in association with Mahendralal Sarkar.
Brent Otto, London, on Anglo-Indian Community.
D. Basu, Kolkata on St. Xavier's.
Deneef Alain, Bruxelles, on Belgian Jesuits.
Elizabeth Gakhar, St. Xavier's Primary School Kolkata, on Costumes of early period.
Fr. Babu Joseph, on Heritage Buildings of Darjeeling Hilly Region.
Fr. C. M. Paul SDB, Kolkata, on Mother Teresa and the Media.
Fr. Gaston Roberge, St Xavier's College, on Indian Performing Art.
Joppan George, Jadavpur University, on Colonial Visual Culture.
Kallol Dasgupta, Kolkata, on Indian Economy
Kaustav Banerjee, on Brahmabandhab Upadhyay.
Michael Kumar Chatterjee, Kolkata, on Religious Controversy between Rammohan Roy and Serampore Missionaries.
Minoti Chatterjee, EMMRC Kolkata, on Park Street and surrounding area.
Paul Vincent, on Adivasi and Thous.
Payel Biswas, on Indo-German School.
Roger Begrich, on Adivasi (Tribals) & Alcohol in Jharkhand (Ranchi)
Rohini Datta, Kolkata, History of St. Xavier's College.
Samson Sandip, Nadia, on Christian Mission & Society in Nadia district
Sandip Johnson, Nadia, on Christian Mission.
Satabdi Banerjee, Kolkata, Christianity in Calcutta from 1813 onwards
Subhalakshmi Pandey, Kolkata, on Colonial Writings on Sub-continental era.
Sunanda Ghosh, Kolkata, on Church History.
Swagata Chattopadhyay, Hooghly, on 150 years of St. Xavier's College.
Vanessa Hildreth, Kolkata, History of St. Xavier's Collegiate School down the ages
Vecce Carlo, Italy, on Cultural Exchanges, Europe/India.
Zenith Williams, SJ, Kolkata, on St. Xavier's College.

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Mails & Emails

First impression is excellent environment for serious studies friendly gesture from library assistants.
Subhalakshmi Pandey, Kolkata,

You have a very nice collection of sources hardly available anywhere else. Thank you for your efforts to preserve these sources.

Brent Otto, London, UK

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Goethals Indian Library & Research Society, St. Xavier’s, 30 Mother Teresa Sarani, Kolkata-700 016, India.
Tel: 0091-33-2280 1919; email: goethals@vsnl.com  Web-site: www.goethals.in 
Director: Dr. Fr. Felix Raj, SJ; Staff: Mr. Sunil Mondol and Debu Mondal.

 

 
 

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