A new management institute by the Brahmaputra in Guwahati is conducting an interview for teachers. Amlan Dutta, Bikash Gogoi and Juri Sharma comprise the panel of interviewers. The fourth person is Father V M Thomas.india Updated: Aug 16, 2009 01:12 IST
A new management institute by the Brahmaputra in Guwahati is conducting an interview for teachers. Amlan Dutta, Bikash Gogoi and Juri Sharma comprise the panel of interviewers. The fourth person is Father V M Thomas.
Thomas has every right to be there; he is, after all, founder-director of the Don Bosco Institute (DBI) that has started the Don Bosco Institute of Management. Barely 5 kilometres away, at the Don Bosco School, Father Joseph Thelekkat is virtually the odd man out. Almost all his 70-odd teachers are ‘lay persons’, Salesian jargon for those who are not members of the Congregation of Salesian Brothers and Sisters that Saint John Bosco founded in Italy in 1859.
“Without any clergy members to help him, Bosco turned to his mother and lay persons. If he utilised the services of non-Salesians to achieve his goal, no reason why we can’t,” says Thomas.
In fact the decision to rely more on lay persons was taken by the Salesian Congregation 12 years ago. “As we diversified with the changing times, we needed the help of professionals to run these institutes,” he adds.
Some 1,700 Salesian brothers and sisters run 220 institutes in the eight-state Northeast that the Guwahati Province covers. Not all are qualified or have the expertise to run many of these institutes like the Don Bosco Museum in Shillong. The onus, thus, is on persons like S.R. Sarkar, retired curator of Kolkata’s Indian Museum.
And it’s not only the teaching staff or specialists. Some Salesian institutes like DBI depend entirely on lay persons for management. If Abani Boro handles accounts and administration, Charan Daimary oversees logistics, and Ranjit Das is the preferred errand boy.
Lay persons, however, have to undergo an indoctrination process to work side by side with Salesians. “We want our teachers, employees and managers to understand and honour the vision and mission of Don Bosco. At the end of the day, it’s the quality of education and service we provide that matters,” says Father P.D. Johny of the Shillong-based youth centre.
P.D. Choudhury, a teacher in Don Bosco Guwahati — the school he had studied in as a boy — recalls the days when a Brother Ignatius or a Brother Sebastian would take most of the classes. “The cassocks are giving way to casuals,” is how he puts it.
If the tribe of the casuals is increasing, there’s another reason for it — a number of Salesian brothers and sisters are giving up priesthood for professional or academic pursuits. “Sometimes, you have to listen to your heart,” says Shillong-based Joyful Lawrence Shingnaisui, who was a Salesian brother before taking to tuning and renovating pianos. And going by his choc-a-bloc schedule across India, he has no regrets.