Friday, 10 September 2010


September 10, 2010
Dr. Saju Chackalackal

Respected Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger, Professor of Ethics and the Founder and Executive Director of, Geneva, Switzerland and the speaker of today’s Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies 2010-2011, Prof. Dr. Fr. Francis Thonippara, our President, invited guests, superiors from various campus houses and seminaries, all the staff of the faculty of philosophy, fathers, sisters, brothers and dear friends,
Let me begin with a simple question, related to your ordinary observation: Have you seen those little sparrows around Bangalore, which were otherwise found in villages and remote areas? There used to be plenty of them, flocking together, flying from one small tree to another; their chirping sounds would have never gone unnoticed. We would have been happy to locate one of their nests on a small bush. Unfortunately, they are no more around. The innovative ways of communication and entertainment are said to be the culprits; they include our telecommunication towers which send out high intensity electronic signals which have adversely affected those birds; it is said that even if the existing birds lay eggs, they cannot even hatched. In the wake of the spurting growth of technology and economy, we have not even the time to notice that they all are gone! Human individuals have changed; the society has changed; nature has been changed and, consequently, the climate is changing, constantly and drastically.
Bangalore as a fast developing city may be taken as a token example for what development can do positively and negatively towards life. While we see the best of it in the form of increasing number of attractive jobs in the IT and BPO industries and the related fields, including the real estate boom and price rice, and all the amenities that come with a better access to resources and enhanced purchasing power even among the middle class, we also witness to the fact that unplanned and improperly monitored growth of Bangalore has brought about havoc to the people and to the nature. Indeed, years ago, we were proud to qualify Bangalore as the Garden City; but not any more! Most of the trees and other greeneries are cut away, water resources are depleted and dried up, and natural habitats of a number of animals and birds have been encroached to make room for the influx of the people and their amenities. As the new economic policies have enabled at least a section of the society to have better access to wealth through the new avenues of business and development, their irresponsible use of the same has resulted in the increase of pollution levels in Bangalore, which is said to be on par with most of the worst affected cities around the world. The state authorities who are expected to initiate responsible actions to set things right are found to be unconcerned about the civic sense and civic justice to such an extent that ultimately there is no one to assume and exercise responsible roles that would characterise a democracy. As the days go by, the woes that the people and nature experience are only on the increase. Left to itself, we do not foresee any immediate intervention which would set things right.
However, as political action fails, we cannot consider that therefore the society fails. When the leadership in a democracy becomes irresponsible and non-responsive to the issues that the society faces, especially those which would require urgent attention to set things right for the present as well as for the future generations, I would consider that it is the responsibility of the people to initiate movements and to develop institutions that would create an awareness and call for action from grassroot levels. This, indeed, is to be pioneered by research and educational institutions, especially as they have a greater responsibility and better reach to the younger minds who, if conscientized and convinced, would be prompted to concerted positive action. It is here we have hope: hope in the youngsters who would take up the responsibility of setting things right, for providing a better nature and better climate, together providing a healthy ambience for life.
Dharmaram is not only a garden of virtues, as its name stands for; it is literally a garden filled with greenery, flowers and fruits that the Mother Earth has blessed us with. In fact, having so much of green amidst the erstwhile “Garden City” of Bangalore is a big surprise to may people who enter our campus. Let us thank God and all those who have been instrumental in maintaining the green in our campus, which in a way functions as an antidote to the increasing pollution level of the Bangalore City. Though our contribution may not completely resolve the issue, what we contribute in terms of the greenery and eco-friendly practices would definitely become a solace to the havoc that the metro-city of Bangalore does to nature and the climate.
The great visionary who planned and started Dharmaram Campus, late Bishop Jonas Thaliath of happy memories, had a vision of harmony of life as the foundational source as well as the goal of Christian mission. In tune with this vision, he had masterminded Dharmaram in such a way that nature was nurtured all through her existence and mission. As the Faculty of Philosophy has evolved out of the pioneering vision of Bishop Jonas, during the celebration of the silver jubilee of the Faculty of Philosophy, in an editorial of the Journal of Dharma, the Dharmaram international quarterly journal of religions and philosophies, I suggested that we should start a new centre to that would cater to the new thrust of environmental studies, ecological justice, etc. Later, it was approved by the concerned academic bodies and, thus, the Centre for Environmental Studies was established under the Faculty of Philosophy. Immediately after the establishment of the Centre, we had started offering academic programmes to our students, and I thank very specially Dr. Sebastian Alackapally, the foremost nature lover on the campus, for having offered various courses to our students in this regard.
It was during the last academic year, a very devout Christian Family living in a remote village of Germany, the family of Wiegelmann, consisting of one sister and brother, Ottilie and Paul, who are known to me for years, contacted me at the demise of the brother. His name is Paul Wiegelmann, in whose name the annual lectures of the Centre for Environmental Studies are instituted. He was a committed farmer and an enthusiastic nature lover. He lived most of his life in a village called Bruchhausen am Steinen, near Olsberg in Germany. All through his life, he worked with nature; he in fact loved the nature to such an extent that he was proud of it. I remember him taking me around, especially to his ranch house. He was always so close to nature to such an extent that he did not want to harm it unnecessarily and before his death he had shared with his sister and friends that he would not have flowers on his grave, but asked all his family and friends to spare the money for the cause of a Christian mission in India. It was the money that came from his funeral service that is the foundational fund for the Centre for Environmental Studies at DVK. Hence, we thought of naming the annual lectures in his name and it is, therefore, christened as “Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies,” the first session of which is held today. I gratefully remember and thank Ottilie Wiegelmann for instituting and facilitating these annual lectures.
As I was on the look out for identifying a person to deliver Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies, I was so happy to have met Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger, who has association with environmental studies over a period of three decades. His passion to involve in ethical issues related to environment in general and climate justice related issues in particular is well known. The passion for ethics in relation to environmental ethics, development ethics, peace ethics, etc., has inspired him to bring in more conscientious persons into ethical deliberation. This has taken him to greater heights to launching an internet based foundation called, which has transformed him into an efficient executive as well. However, I am happy to note that Dr. Christoph has not lost his passion for academic research, which is so praiseworthy.
Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger is Founder and Executive Director of the global network on ethics, based in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a part-time Professor of Ethics at the University of Basel. He awarded a PhD for his doctoral dissertation on “Peace Ethics” and his habilitation (“second thesis”) was on “Environmental Ethics.” His main fields of research are economic ethics, finance ethics, political ethics, development ethics, and environmental ethics. He is regularly visiting professor in developing countries, especially in Africa and Asia.
He has published as author and editor many books and hundreds of articles on applied ethics, in seven languages, among others on Responsible Leadership, Global Trade Ethics, Peace Ethics, Consumer Ethics, Work Ethics, Corruption, Interreligious Ethics, Development Ethics, Fundamental Values, etc.
Moreover, Dr. Christoph was founder and president of Transparency International Switzerland, member of the Commission for International Cooperation of the Swiss Government, member of the Swiss Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology of the Swiss Government, director of the Development Organisation “Bread for All,” president of the international microfinance institution “ECLOF International” working in 30 developing countries, member and consultant of various ethics committees of Swiss Banks and other companies.
All in all, Dr. Christoph has been a successful academician as well as the founder and executive director of, the Indian chapter of which has been founded yesterday, during a meeting that was convened at our Dharmaram College. I am indeed happy that we have Dr. Christoph with us to deliver the first Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies under the auspices of the Centre for Environmental Studies in the Faculty of Philosophy. Today, he will speak on “We All Are Guests on Earth! A Global Christian Vision for Climate Justice,” which will make us realize the challenges and prospects that we have as we go ahead with our daily living in the milieu of the globalized and globalizing India. As the nature is being excessively used by the vested interests, supported by the political powers and manipulated by the market and media, only conscientious deliberations and practices would pave the right way for conscious just action. As we experience the climatic changes, and the total unpredictability of nature as the years go by, the concerns are no more futuristic, but they are so existential that we have no time to wait to see whether something adverse would take place at all. In fact, all of are on the verge of destruction, which may happen today or tomorrow. It becomes all the more difficult that we do not see it as obviously as it should have been. However, I am sure that these lectures that Prof. Christoph would offer us this morning would definitely indicate a critical analysis of the present scenario and call for concerted action. Hence, in the name of the President of DVK, the staff and students of the Faculty of Philosophy, and all those who have gathered here, I am happy and proud to extend a very warm and cordial welcome to Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger to deliver the “Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on “We All Are Guests on Earth! A Global Christian Vision for Climate Justice.”
I am also glad to welcome Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Thonippara CMI, the president of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram to this first formal programme of the Centre for Environmental Studies. In fact, I am happy to inform you that it was his encouragement and unrelenting support that made the establishment of this centre and to design its programmes. While thanking Prof. Francis Thonippara, our president for all that he had been contributing to the cause of enhancing environmental consciousness among our staff and students, I very cordially welcome him to this Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies.
I am happy to see that there are many professors and students from the Faculty of Theology, Institute of Oriental Canon Law, the Institute of Spirituality and Counselling, and also from our neighbouring institutions who have come over here to participate in this annual lecture. Dear Friends, your presence is a testimony to the fact that the cause for which the Centre for Environmental Studies has been established is noble and that there are many who consider it to be of great importance. Therefore, I am very happy to have all of you with us for these lectures and may I extend to you a warm welcome.
Finally and most importantly, I am very much encouraged by the presence of my colleagues and the students in the Faculty of Philosophy, who are the backbone of the faculty as well as the spirit behind the success of every programme that we conduct. I recall the hard work that my companions as well as my beloved students have put in to set the required things for this meeting. For example, we have a very special art work prepared by the final year theology student and artist Sebeesh Vettiyadan and his collaborators, and Jeff Shawn Jose and Raphy Kadavi and their companions who are behind the innovative concept of “Green Punch,” which will be launched towards the end of the first session. They all have put in the best to make the whole event a memorable and successful one. I am grateful to all of them, very especially all student volunteers who support the cause of the Centre for Environmental Studies. Although they need not be formally welcomed, let me cordially extend a very warm welcome to all my colleagues and students in the Faculty of Philosophy. Welcome, my dear friends!
I welcome you all once again to this Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on “We All Are Guests on Earth! A Global Christian Vision for Climate Justice,” and hoping that the enlightenment we receive from these lectures offered by Prof. Dr. Christoph Stückelberger would sensitise all of us and propel us into further action for the establishment and re-establishment of justice in all nature related areas, especially to stand for climate justice, come what may! We need to save ourselves, which would be possible only by saving the whole nature, of which we are only a numerically insignificant part, but the most significant partner in the whole saga of nature destruction! Correspondingly, if proactive, our decisions will make a significant difference. Hence, let us remember, my dear friends that the ball is in our court, and we need to play on, play on consciously and proactively, whereby we would be saved by saving the nature and protecting the climate.
Wishing you a wonderful and fruitful time with Prof. Christoph, I remain. Thank you!

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