Over 600 alumni of Jesuit institutions across the world are gathering in Calcutta for the Summit of Joy.
The meet, to be held from January 21 to 24 at St Xavier’s College, will be inaugurated by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on Day I. Lawyer Fali Nariman will deliver the keynote address.
With over 100 international delegates expected to participate, four focus sessions will be held to create a dialogue on education and development, business practices, environment and empowerment of women. Following each day’s sessions, workshops will be held to create an action plan.
“The meet aims to finding out how we can improve the quality of life through the alumni network,” said General (retd) Shankar Roychowdhury, an alumnus of St Xavier’s Collegiate School and part of the core team behind the Summit. The General stressed that the meet was not for Jesuit priests, but for ex-students of the organisations run by the Order.
The theme of the four-day meet — “Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high” — is drawn from Rabindranath Tagore, who also received part of his education from Jesuit institutions.
Even the President, who will be on his first visit to the city after moving into Rashtrapati Bhavan, is an alumnus of St Joseph’s College, Tiruchirapalli, part of the Jesuit fraternity.
This, the sixth World Congress of ex-students from Jesuit educational institutions across the globe, is being organised by the alumni of the three institutions of the Order in Calcutta — St Xavier’s Collegiate School, St Xavier’s College and St Lawrence — with a budget of Rs 25 lakh. It is being touted as “an opportunity to integrate the efforts” of ex-students from educational institutions around the world.
Delegates from Australia, Belgium, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, Nigeria and Peru are expected to attend. Speakers include Ambrose Pinto, Vinod Raina, Thomas Roach, Anand Naik, Sanjeev Goenka, Father Des Dwyre, K.M. Mathew, SJ, Pradeep Kakkar, S.B. Roy, Madhu Kiswar, Jean Llorin and Jasodhara Bagchi.
Reacting to the recent statements made by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) against the Jesuit order, Roychowdhury said this “15th Century mindset” was “unfortunate”. Not only is the Summit of Joy “a secular meet”, the former army chief emphasised that missionary education was the most sought after because of its superior quality — whether from a “Christian mission or the Ramakrishna Mission”.