Rudolf, certainly not a reindeer!

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I recently attended a paper presentation by one Mr. Rudolf Heredia at an international conference in Bangalore, and what a mesmerizing personality he turned out to be. As per the moderator's introduction, he did his doctrate in sociology and then took on a very social role - working for recognition of marginalized groups and championing the cause for improvement in our education system. A jesuit from mumbai that calls himself a social scientist, Rudolf sir is extremely well read, and brilliant in his eloquence, while his affable personality, and humility make him very approachable. He kept us audience in rapt attention with forceful pedagogy peppered with appropriate satire.

Rudolf sir's focus was on globalization from an economical perspective, and its socio-cultural impact in skewing the developmental trajectory. He starts with the European enlightenment that initiated an era of industrialization and rapid progress, [the population boom also finds its roots in this era] stressing on how the values of the renaissance period were quickly overcome by a globalizing current which drowned the micro-identities of individual cultures and, hence, created a regressive spiral in which economical, cultural and educational institutions lost their healthy correlation. He analyzes the failures of both neo-liberal caplitalistic as well communist concepts and attempts to reach a holistic and pragmatic solution that is both integrating as well as liberating. He stresses the need for a paradign shift that foregrounds culture in the respective social aspect, contextualizes development on grounds of equity and changes education from traditional to transformative frameworks. While all speakers before him spoke about alleviating the condition of the poor, Rudolf sir stood up and asked, "Who do you call a poor man? The need is not to define poverty but to redefine prosperity". He ends his paper on an ironic, yet relevant, note that we may fight various battles and, in all unlikelihood, even win them, but we should not end up with a tragic realization that we fought the wrong war.

Fr. Rudolf is an old man yet bubbling with as much energy as an impassioned youth, especially when he takes centerstage on his favorite topics. In the brief chat I managed with him backstage, I complimented that he was like a tiger hidden under sheep's skin, for which he replied he may be a deer but never a tiger. I was very sure Rudolf sir, who calls himself an independant researcher even while being part of so many illustrious institutes, seemed no less than a tiger to me..


Anonymous said...

Rudolf C Heredia work Changing Gods: Rethinking Conversion in India is a must read. Good you managed to have a brief chat with him.

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

yes! It really had to wait my chance for a long time. In the end when I personally met him, his humility was endearing. I hope I get a chance to correspond with him in future too - he can be a very good guiding light for seeking minds.

My interest is in the field of Business and Social Ethics so I may try to read his book as time permits. Thanks for visiting my blog and affirming Rudolf sir's scholarly nature.

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