O Ganga tumi,
Ganga boicho kano?
“Amidst all the lament and despair of the millions around you, O Ganges, how can you flow on so silently?- with this bewildering question echoing in their hearts, on 28th November, 1859, 157 years ago, seven Jesuit pilgrims from Belgium ventured their journey into this Sonar Bangla. Yes, 157 years, a very long time indeed. And the seed of the Bengal Mission, that was sown by seven Jesuit Fathers has grown into a large, all-encompassing tree, The St. Xavier’s University, সীমার মাঝে, অসীম, তুমি বাজাও আপন সুর ।
This long cherished dream has become a reality now with the generosity of the Honourable Chief Minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, when The St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata Bill 2016 was passed unanimously on December 15 in the West Bengal Assembly, paving the way for a new university at New Town, Rajarhat, to meet the growing need for quality facilities and to encourage private investment in the state’s Higher Education. In the words of Fr. Felix Raj, the principal, “I thank the chief minister, the Bengal Government and all the legislators for being supportive to our cause. Now, we will be able to serve more students (5 thousand-7 thousand by 2025) and set up another centre of excellence” with an investment of about 300 crores.
The Jesuits impart the most effective and encompassing education in India. They conduct 52 university Colleges, 16 Management Institutes and 196 high schools spread throughout the country, almost all of them among India’s most reputed (for example: St. Xavier’s, Calcutta, Mumbai, Ranchi; Loyola College, Chennai, Vijayawada; St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore, Trichy; XLRI, Jamshedpur and XIMB Bhubaneshwar). In them, more than 3,50,000 students belonging to every religious, linguistic and socio-economic group, receive their education.
St. Xavier’s University, being the second Jesuit University in the Eastern part of India, will start operating from the 2017-’18 academic session, according to Father Felix Raj, with courses like MSW, MCom, MA in English, M.A in Mass Communication, BBA and B. Com. By 2025, the University would be able to build the educational hub, with management, law and a sports training academy. With this 157th year gift, the Jesuits will be able to prepare more ‘Leaders in Service’ aiming to be the best and give the best, “magis”, “greater”, “better”, and “higher” in relation to the goals of the Jesuits.
A Jesuit school or college or university aims to form “men and women for others” who will be agents of needed social change in their country for the “Greater Glory of God” Hence, the Jesuit dictum “Give us a boy and we will return you a man, a citizen of his country and a child of God.” Swami Vivekananda, the youth icon of Bengal once said, “Get up, and set your shoulder to the wheel – how long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? – They too come into existence, decay and die..
Today the time has come to ask ourselves if we have been able to strike a mark in the heart and soul of the common people and whether we have been able to bear the light of the legacy that the 7 Jesuit Fathers had once kindled. As the Holy Bible says,“If what they have planned and done is of human origin, it will disappear, but if it comes from God, you cannot possibly defeat them”. – Keeping this in mind we should always try to move from falsehood to the truth, from darkness to the light, and from mortality to immortality.
Success, is a mind game as we believe in St Xavier’s. Friends, the supercomputers of Bengal’s march ahead, are powered by the Operating Systems that are Jesuits. Come, be a part of these unique success stories – for embedded in each one of them will be a chip that is Xaverian.
St Xavier’s is not about cramming the mind with information. It is about instilling in the young minds the urge to question, to prick the instinctive inquisitiveness to search for answers, gathering of knowledge being a byproduct of the exercise. The men and women, I see many familiar Xaverian faces in the audience, will agree. We held the candle before the mirror of your minds and believe me, the illumination you create is dazzling. It is like enriched uranium attaining critical mass – the energy that is released by that cerebral reaction is astounding and the mind warriors who roll out without fail are the ones who will help Bengal keep her tryst with destiny.
At the very end let us recapitulate the words of one of Bengal’s finest sons, Rabindranath Tagore, who said, “O Lord, Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might” . These words should challenge us to commit our lives to the cause of the poor and the marginalized.
We may have founded our temples of education when the English ruled the land, but it was, and continues to be the love and affection showered by the people of Bengal that has kept us here. All Four hundred plus years that we have been here in this land. We love this land, we have tied our destinies with the people, this is our karm-bhoomi, our Holy Land, spreading the light of knowledge, being our mission. That is why, before I start, join me as I say:
“Banglar mati, Banglar jol,
Banglar bayu, Banglar fol,
Purno houk, purno houk, purno houk,
(may the soil, the water, the air, the produce of Bengal be blessed, o Lord).
– This speech was delivered at the Bengal Global Business Summit 2017