Posts Tagged ‘India’

Jesuit Father Richard Ryscavage on India’s Growing Gender Imbalance

A new study conducted by Fairfield University’s Center for Faith and Public Life has dug deeper into India’s gender ratio imbalance crisis to find that it is being fueled by complex family pressures, including the belief that boys will be better wage earners, and that men will more likely take better care of their aging parents. The study also indicates that elders in the family and often husbands prefer a male child, while many wives pointed out that their voices were not being heard and had little choice in the matter.

Fairfield University’s innovative survey examined how gender dynamics and family pressures in India lead to the birth of a significantly greater number of boys than girls. The study suggests that male child preference is quite prevalent and the gender ratio imbalance – which is on the increase and was evident in the 2011 Indian National Census – is likely to be a major impediment to the future development of India.

Jesuit Father Richard Ryscavage, professor of sociology and director of The Center for Faith and Public Life, conducted the study and recently sat down for an interview with National Jesuit News.

According to the 2011 National Census of India, there were 914 girls born for every 1,000 boys; in some regions reaching as low as 824 girls. These figures are alarming in comparison to the United Nation’s 2010 Population Sex Ratio norm of 101.7 males to 100 females. The Indian census numbers therefore show a severe gender ratio imbalance in the nation. The Indian government, numerous global agencies, NGOs and researchers contend that as women become a minority in the population, there is bound to be a detrimental effect on both India’s economic development and social stability.

Undertaken in partnership with two Jesuit schools in India – St. Xavier College in Mumbai and Loyola College in Chennai – the research also found that girls are being systematically devalued in society. Yet, the findings also revealed many wives responding that daughters would be better caregivers than sons.

Fairfield’s researchers surveyed the upper layer of the lower class and the lower layer of the middle class. The assumption was that those families could be the part of the population that can make changes in their attitudes towards the son preference practice, a change that could be discernible by the next census, in 2021.

For more information on the “Impact India” study, visit

School of the Heart: My Tertianship in India

Jesuit Father Tom Greene, Secretary for Social and International Ministries at the Jesuit Conference recently returned from his Tertianship in India.

For those unfamiliar, Tertianship is a step in the Jesuit’s formation process, usually to be made after ten to fifteen years after the novitiate and at the end of the Jesuit’s professional training. St Ignatius called it a ‘school of the heart’. It is a time in which the tertian deepens his own commitment to the Society and Jesus.

Fr. Greene sat down with National Jesuit News to talk about his time in India, and his desire to go deeper into the School of the Heart.

Through Dance, Jesuit Connects with the Poor of India

Across the globe, over 20,000 Jesuits are engaged in a diverse variety of ministries. While known for their work in education, Jesuits not only work in classrooms – many are doctors, engineers, economists as well as theologians, spiritual directors and parish priests. Sometimes it seems that there are as many Jesuit-run apostolates as there are Jesuits themselves. As the men of Society of Jesus strive to be on the frontiers, Jesuit Father Prashant Olalekar encapsulates that missionary spirit through his work with Interplay in Mumbai, India.

Fr. Olalekar oversee the Banda Retreat House in Mumbai where he helps conduct retreats and programs for those seeking spiritual solitude and a deeper connection with God through the practice of Ignatian Spirituality. And, recently, during a visit to the United States, Olalekar discovered an Eastern-based practice during his time in the West – a “movement meditation” called Interplay. Today, he conducts class with Interplay India and brings movement and dance to those seeking spiritual guidance and connections.

Olalekar takes his Interplay technique across Mumbai to those living in the poorest of conditions, in the slums and in the streets. Through his teachings, he strives to show a mind/body connection and has even taken his practice to those who have been cut off from any sort of movement whatsoever – paraplegics and people bedridden from the effects of paralysis. Olalekar hopes to show that everyone can be blessed with movement and filled with dance.

Below, he discusses his practice and what Interplay India brings to the people of Mumbai:

Jesuits Visit Their Twinned Province in Northeast India


The Jesuits are probably best known for their work in education yet, the Society of Jesus is also the largest missionary order in the Roman Catholic Church. This vibrant apostolate dates back to St. Francis Xavier, the patron saint of foreign missions, and his work in South and East Asia.

The Wisconsin Province Jesuits recently renewed a bond with the Kohima region of northeast India. This area, known as the “seven sisters” (for seven states), spans a rugged triangular region of lower Himalayan terrain that borders Tibet, Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan. Th Wisconsin twinning relationship was created in a spirit of mutual sharing. It identifies particular areas of cooperation and a commitment to accompany indigenous people. Jesuit Father Tom Krettek, provincial of the Wisconsin province, and his international assistant John Sealey visited Kohima this year to help deepen this bond.

While there, Fr. Krettek and Sealey visited Jesuit schools, health clinics, the Jesuit novitiate in Kohima along with other Jesuit ministries in the area. The video below highlights their visit to Kohima.