Prof. Felix Wilfred lectures on social exclusion at SXUK
St. Xavier’s University, Kolkata (SXUK) organised an extension lecture on ‘Principles and ways to overcome social exclusion in Asia’ on March 11, 2023 at the university campus. The speaker was Prof. Father Felix Wilfred, an eminent academician and theologian from Chennai.
Formerly associated with the University of Madras as the Chairperson of the School of Philosophy and Religious Thought, Prof. Wilfred is the Founder-Director of Asian Culture for Cross-Cultural Studies (ACCS), Chennai.
Father John Felix Raj, S.J, Hon’ble Vice-Chancellor of SXUK felicitated Father Wilfred on behalf of the Lafont Centre of Excellence in Research and Innovation (LCERI), the research wing of SXUK. In his welcome address, Father Raj reminisced his memories of student life at Vidyajoti College of Theology, New Delhi where he had first met Father Wilfred.
While referring to the practices of social exclusion across the world, Prof. Wilfred narrated his experience of visiting cities in Asia where he witnessed the culture of ‘ghettoization’ that isolates one from others. He said, “Social exclusion is a multi-layered phenomenon. It happens through social, political, cultural and economic aspects”.
He referred to untouchability as the most widely practised process that indulges in social exclusion. “This is a social evil which has been in practice since the mediaeval period throughout the world”, he added.
Referring to Nelson Mandela’s movement to rise against apartheid in South Africa, Father Wilfred said that depriving one from getting opportunity is a perpetrated attack on one’s self-respect and dignity. He said that more equity is needed than seeking equality in society to overcome exclusion. He mentioned Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “Natural resources are for the use of entire human family”.
Father Wilfred strongly criticised the present education system that ingrains the concept of competition among children. He said that it results into rat-race that empowers one student to disparage others and brings disaster to their future. He also added that parents are equally responsible for this as they pamper their children to practise social exclusion in this way. Citing the inequality in getting opportunity to pursue higher education, he said, “It still remains locked in the coterie of rich and powerful class of society”, he added.
In his concluding words, Prof. Wilfred recognised Father Raj’s ‘monumental’ and ‘significant’ contributions to the development of higher education in the state. Besides praising SXUK’s efforts to make holistic development through inclusive education policies, he urged all stakeholders of the University to come forward and join this noble mission to make a better tomorrow.
All faculty members, staff and postgraduate students of the university attended the programme.
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