Editorial: A Plea for better Systems

Savio Silveira

It’s Chapter time again!

The final countdown for PC2010 has already begun and in just a few days we will be huddled together in the hallowed halls of Lonavla, solemnly charting out the future of our province.

So what phrase should we use to define this triennial exercise that whips up enormous amounts of intellectual and emotional energy, and swallows up inordinate amounts of time and resources? The Dickensian ‘Great Expectations’ or the Shakespearian ‘Much Ado About Nothing’? But we can decide that later.

As I look at the pile of PC2010 documents on my table which were presented to us by the Moderator at a recent meeting, my mind drifts back to PC2004, the Chapter I had the responsibility of steering. Those were exhilarating days! The PSP process had reached a crescendo; its findings were meticulously dissected and debated at endless Commission meetings and then painstakingly crafted into precise and persuasive documents. And after these documents had been reviewed, revised and redrafted by the Chapter, they were put to vote, article by article, section by section. Voilà...we heaved a collective sigh of relief, patted our backs on a task well accomplished, and jubilantly broke out into a song of gratitude. The province had been placed on the definite path to progress!

In an attempt to relive those poignant moments, I pulled out the province ‘Handy Kit’ from the shelf that carefully preserves those precious documents. As I eagerly leafed through the pages, I suddenly experienced a sinking feeling. All that fervour and frenzy of PC2004, those great expectations....was it just much ado about nothing?

Take the Madhya Maharashtra region for example. Our Salesians working there are constantly complaining that it is a neglected region, that the province has no plan for its growth, that it has witnessed no expansion beyond the borders of the Ahmednagar district. But the astonishing truth is that the documents contain a detailed plan for its development. And the Young at Risk sector, we keep lamenting that this sector is limping, with the province at large refusing to engage in it. And yet those same documents declare that every urban Salesian community will assess the situation of street and slum kids in their vicinity, and draw up an action plan to address it by July 2004. The Gujarat region... an Institute of Professional Education at Amodar, a Youth Hostel at Banswada...

The issue is not that we have failed to fulfil these commitments, but that we don’t even remember that we actually drew up these plans!

The reason for this sorry scenario, I would believe, is the absolute lack of good accountability systems. And yes, the non existence of sanctions. In any other place, heads would roll, pay cheques would take a cut, or at least a warning letter would be issued. But within the sacred space of our religious life, accountability and follow-up systems are yet to gain importance.

So could PC2010 please put in place a serious accountability system? Or is this too much to ask for?

1 comment:

  1. very perceptive comments savio...could not agree more with you...i can see a sense of disillusionment here too given that the scenario is same in most of india at least...i hope things are better this time round