Friday, 26 August 2011


Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi
Friday, 26 August 2011

Dr. Saju Chackalackal

Prof. Dr. Fr. Francis Thonippara, our President, Respected Rev. Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi, an Eco-Warrior and a professional trainer of volunteers for the protection of nature, and the speaker of the second Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies 2011-2012, invited guests, superiors from various campus houses and seminaries, faculty members of Philosophy, Theology, Canon Law, and Vinayasadhana, fathers, sisters, brothers and dear friends,
Nature is bountiful. She has her being in letting herself to be shared by all elements that constitute her so much so that she exists and thrives in a symbiotic relationship established among everything created. Her ability to give without reserve is unmatched. Whoever reaches out to her will not go empty handed, as her bounty never gets drained or dried out.
Being essentially part of and having a distinctive position within the nature, human beings have to assume greater responsibilities to protect and care for the whole creation. As human beings are endowed with the faculties of intellect and will, they are uniquely capable of enhancing the course and content of nature through their ongoing creative involvement facilitated through better understanding and judicious choices.
The symbiotic relationship between the bountiful nature and creative human being is a fact that cannot be questioned or denied. The history of the universe, especially the history of human involvement in the spontaneous or agency-induced evolution of nature for millions of years, as they are gathered from different types of research carried out in recent years in different parts of the globe, attests to the fact that human presence was a blessing to the extent that they cared for the bountiful nature without adversely affecting her natural rhythm.
Dharmaram is not only a garden of virtues, as its name stands for; it is literally a garden filled with a lot of 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 many 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 the 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, as a memento, we instituted the Centre for Environmental Studies. Immediately after the establishment of the Centre, we had started offering academic programmes to our students; this year, as part of the regular programme, Fr. John Neelankavil, the director of the Centre for Environmental Studies will offer a course on “Environmental Threats” and I thank him for the same and a number of other nature-pro conscientization programmes that he has planned for the campus.
Two years ago, a very devout Christian family living in a remote village of Germany, the family of Wiegelmann, consisting of one sister and a 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 memory 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 lived and worked with nature; he, in fact, loved the nature to such an extent that he was proud of it. Very vividly, I remember him taking me around, especially to his ranch house on the top of a mountain. 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 formed the foundational capital of the Centre for Environmental Studies at DVK. Hence, fittingly, we decided to name the annual lectures in his name and it is, therefore, christened as “Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies.” It is the second series of those lectures that are being held today. I gratefully remember and thank Ottilie Wiegelmann for instituting and facilitating these annual lectures.
It is said, passion for anything is contagious. Passion of one person can ignite the hearts of many others; a passionate person can become a catalyst in a society, initiating a number of positive actions, which would trigger an action-reaction chain whereby a lot of people would eventually share the same passion. I am extremely happy to have amidst us Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi, who is passionately involved in protecting and promoting nature. Through his research, studies, reflection, writing, and an innumerable number of training sessions across the globe, Fr. Rayappa is acutely aware of the inestimable problems that the entire creation faces today, especially due to human greed and carelessness. Being a very patient but persistent eco-warrior, Fr. Rayappa has initiated a process to counter the menace that affects our environment through positive action and conscientization programmes.
Rayappa A. Kasi, a native of A. Kattupadi, Vellore, a Catholic priest, a Cosmologist and a frog conservationist, works in the Diocese of Vellore and often travels around the world giving lectures on Global Warming and Climate Change to younger generations. He is a long time associate of Edward O. Wilson, a renowned evolutionary biologist of Harvard University, Boston, who is the champion of ant conservation.
Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi studied philosophy at St. Paul’s Seminary, Trichy (and Fr. Francis Vineeth was one of his teachers, which he recalls with a lot of fond memories and gratitude); later, he pursued his theological studies and research at Propaganda Fide, Rome. His publications include, apart from innumerable articles, 10 books on Ecology and Environment. His first book Earth: The Lost Paradise of Happiness was a best seller. The second book was on Global Warming: Everything You Want to Know. Then came Biosphere: The Fragility of Our Natural Heritage, Lithosphere: A Destructive Creator, Hydrosphere: The Giver of Life, Atmosphere: A Thin Line between Life and Death, Earth: Designed for Biodiversity – Life Will Find a Way, Youth: An Avatar of New Earth, Apes to Angels: Man Reaches His Omega Point, and the last in the series, his 10th baby, as Fr. Rayappa fondly looks at it, will be published today during our concluding session of today’s programme, and it is titled Rush to Riches: The War on Creation; (all the books are displayed at the backside of this auditorium, and most of them could also be downloaded from the official website of Fr. Rayappa A. Kasi).
Rayappa has given hundreds of lectures and workshops to students around the world on ecology and environment. He has lectured more than 145,000 students and his audience ranges somewhere between the age of 12 and 35. His website is one of the most visited websites around the world. He is residing at present in a small parish in the Vellore Diocese in Tamil Nadu, where he trains young environmentalists and forms them into small groups called “Eco Protection Force,” and “Eco-Warriors.”
After the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change, in 2009, which unfortunately ended without any positive result, Prof. Rayappa has intensified his campaign on Environment, hoping to convince every individual of his or her ability and responsibility to make a difference. Hence, the lecture series that Prof. Rayappa offers would set in motion a mutiny against the “Rush to Riches,” against industrialization, modernization, consumption, and exploitation of the Earth. He proposes to argue that we must utilize religious and political power for the service to Earth instead of misusing it in ruthless battles on Creation. We must develop a spirit of compassion toward Earth – against land, water, air, and life. Rayappa believes that a New Green Era is already unfolding, if we believe in the power of religions. Religions can help usher in a Green Era that will revolve around the themes of sacrifice, sharing, rightsizing, sustainability, and carbon-footprint. Creation and Green Earth depend on harnessing the wisdom of religions, in order to bring about personal and global transformation.
I am indeed happy that we have Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi with us to deliver the second Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on Environmental Studies for 2011-2012, under the auspices of the Centre for Environmental Studies in the Faculty of Philosophy. As you already know, today, he will speak on “Rush to Riches: The War on Creation.” 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 in favour of nature. 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 and see whether something adverse would take place at all. In fact, all of us are on the verge of destruction, which may happen even 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. Rayappa will offer a critical analysis of the present scenario and call for immediate and concerted action. Hence, in the name of the President of DVK, the staff and students of the Faculty of Philosophy, particularly in the name of Rev. Fr. John Neelankavil, the director of the Centre for Environmental Studies, and all those who have gathered here, I am happy and proud to extend a very warm and cordial welcome to Rev. Prof. Rayappa A. Kasi to deliver the “Paul Wiegelmann Annual Lectures on “Rush to Riches: The War on Creation.”
I am also glad to welcome Rev. Prof. Dr. Francis Thonippara CMI, the president of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram to these annual lectures. In fact, I am happy to inform you that it was his encouragement and unrelenting support that made the establishment of this centre and its programmes. While thanking Prof. Francis Thonippara, our president, for all that he had been contributing to the cause of enhancing environmental consciousness the staff and students of DVK, I very cordially welcome him to this second 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, 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 arrange the required things for this meeting. We have witnessed the thought-provoking street play “Wounded Nature… Bounded Human,” that our second year Bachelor of Philosophy students had put up at the beginning of the procession. The colourful procession and the message of being with the nature are the innovations of Fr. John, which are executed with the assistance of our students. The introduction of the bullock cart, I think, was a very novel and inspiring concept. We also await another mime from our students during the concluding session; it is thematically titled as “Save the Nature!” All in all, they have put in the best to make the whole event a memorable and successful one. I am grateful to all of them, very especially to Fr. John Neelankavil and 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 have a hopeful feeling that “all is not lost.” That is a consoling thought; however, this consoling thought has to initiate positive action to set the things right. The programmes of the Centre, especially these annual lectures offer us a special occasion to reset our priorities, and fine tune our preferences. We need to “think-pro-nature”, “speak-pro-nature”, and “act-pro-nature.”
Instead of grabbing every opportunity for selfish gains, the humanity has to tune in itself to a new philosophy of sharing, where one would not hold anything back to oneself, but would give away for the other, even to the extent of giving away all that one has and, hopefully, much more than what one has… Indeed, everything is not lost, as long as humanity has not lost itself!
Wishing you a wonderful and fruitful time with Prof. Rayappa, I remain. Thank you!

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