New Delhi, 30th September, 2017
[The following is the Statement issued by Dr John Dayal, Past President, all India Catholic Union, Secretary General of the All India Christian Council, and Member, National Integration Council, Government of India.]
We condemn the reprehensible and in-comprehensive decision of the New Delhi based and Indian Government sponsored Indira Gandhi National Open University, New Delhi to discontinue the Mother Teresa Chair in Health, Eduction and Social Work which was started with much fanfare in the Christ Jubilee Year 2000
The Mother Teresa church, a prestigious institution, is ostensibly being closed down for want of funds, together with a Chair sponsored by the Indian Space organisation and some others.
The University’s Board of Management “decided to continue with chairs that are sponsored by an outside agency and did not utilise the funds of the university,” M Aslam, vice-chancellor of IGNOU, is quoted today in the national media as saying.
There was opposition to it with some of the academic staff calling it unilateral. Professors say the guidelines for establishment of chair sets rule for setting up new chair, it does not say anything about discontinuing an existing chair.
The discontinuance of the Mother Teresa Chair comes at a time when there is a global Catholic campaign urging Pope Francis to fast track the canonisation of the Albanian-born Indian-national Nobel Laureate.
Mother Teresa, founder of the Missionaries of Charities order whose religious women and men run orphanages and relief shelters across the globe, is an icon of the age for her espousal of human compassion for the poorest of the poor, for children and for the terminally ill and dying. The blue-bordered sari that the ‘Saint of the Gutters’ wore, and which her mission Sisters wear, is a universally accepted symbol of these values.
The Chair was established in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Catholic Bishops Conference of India and the university on February 29, 2000, and facilitates the initiatives of IGNOU for launching several socially relevant programmes of study.
The revised MoU was signed on April 22, 2009 at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore. Its objectives remain to address the needs of disadvantaged sections of the society through educational programmes, extension activities and research and to develop and launch socially-relevant courses and programmes of study such as social work, HIV/AIDS, family life education, substance abuse, and Philosophy. It offers various diplomas and degrees in these subjects.
We call upon the Board of Management of the Indira Gandhi National Open University not to close down the Mother Teresa Chair, but to add to its endowment to further the cause of social work and research.