42nd Seminar Report

42nd Annual Research Seminar of ACPI,

A report of the 42nd Annual Research Seminar of ACPI, held at the MSFS Provincial House, Guwahati, on the theme, “Indian Hermeneutics of Suspicion.” There were around ninety participants at the seminar, including Professors and research scholars from different ecclesiastical and secular institutions from all over the country, and Master’s level students from four different ecclesiastical institutions.

The book published this year was titled, Becoming a Nation: Processes and Prospects, edited by Dolreich Pereira. It was released by Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati, who also inaugurated the seminar. The volume features papers which were presented at last year’s research seminar at St. Albert’s College, Ranchi. In today’s turbulent times of wide-ranging interpretations of what it means to “become a nation,” it is hoped that this volume will offer a sane and balanced approach in understanding and appreciating the true meaning and ramifications of the processes and prospects involved in becoming a nation.

In his inaugural address, Archbishop Moolachira drew our attention to the example of Jesus Christ, who was in a sense of master of suspicion (of debilitating ideologies and crippling social and religious practices). The Archbishop encouraged the participants to explore ways in which critique could enable societies to continually purify and transform themselves, so as to create better conditions for human life to flourish.

The Keynote Address was delivered by Prof. Ram Puniyani, a well-known activist and advocate of interreligious harmony. Prof. Puniyani provided numerous illustrations of the growing sense of communal disharmony, strategically designed towards the hegemony of majoritarianism. He appealed to people of good will of different organizational affiliations to come together and overcome such forces, in order to work towards the common good, guided by the principles of the Constitution, which alone can ensure the sustenance of social and personal wellbeing.

 We were also happy to have Bp. Vincent Aind of Bagdogra with us (for the third year in succession), demonstrating the support of the hierarchy for the ACPI. There were twenty-three papers presented in all, as well as a Student’s debate, related to the theme. It is hoped that some form of scholarly participation and presentation by students will become a regular feature of future ACPI seminars.

The following papers were presented at the seminar by various scholars:

“The Suspicious Indian: Programmatic, Pragmatic and Prophetic Critique” by Keith D’Souza; “A Hermeneutics of Suspicion as a Tool for the Transformation of Society” by Ashley Miranda; “Independent Thinking and the Politics of Knowledge Production” by Johnson Puthenpurackal; “Reinventing Hermeneutics of Suspicion from Contemporary Indian Realities” by Victor Ferrao; “Against Indian Majoritarianism: The Views of Ambedkar as the Leader of the Little Flock” by James Ponniah; “Kancha Illaiah and Post-Hindu India” by James Chellappa; “Indian Media: Watchdog or Lapdog?” by Francis Arackal; “Asghar Ali Engineer – A Muslim with a Difference” by Jose Pennaparambil; “Science as a Hermeneutical Enterprise” by Stephen Jayard; “Bishop as Patriot: Azariah’s Negotiations between Indigenization and Nationalism” by Jose Maliekal; “Deconstruction in J. Krishnamurthy’s Teachings” by Kamladevi Kunkolienkar; “Osho’s Redefinition of Spirituality” by Lourdu Xavier; “Consciousness as an Emergent Property: On the Carvaka Materialist Philosophy” by Gregory Malayil; “The Tenets of Humanism in Different Stalwarts” by Sekar Sebastin; “Alternative Interpretations of the Ramayana” by Gayatri Mendanha & Ananya Dutta; “Pandita Ramabai: Woman of Suspicion for Hindus and Christians” by Michael Rosario; “Sacred India Losing the Sense of Sacredness” by Wyman Gonsalves; “Challenging the Process of A-Signification of Tribal Land” by Raju Felix Crasta; “From Sramanism to Scholactivism” by Martin Kallungal; “Sphota Theory of Meaning and its Relevance Today” by Ivan D’Souza; “Creative and Critical (Un)Reading of Dravidianism” by Antonysamy; “Re-Claiming Narayana Guru for a Kerala of Today” by Biju Pallippadan; and “The Struggle of Hermeneutics” by Annie Kunnath.

The participants were very impressed and satisfied with the arrangements and organizational efficiency of the MSFS Provincial community, under the guidance and animation of Dr. George Panthanmackel, our past President. We were privileged to use the brand-new AC hall on the campus for the duration of the entire seminar. Special thanks need to go out to the local coordinators, Frs. Jose Karipadathu and Praveen Kumbattu.  

Thanking you for your active support of the ACPI and its projects,

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Keith D’Souza, SJ

(President, ACPI)