Having in mind the dalits and the transgenders

C. Joe Arun, SJ - Chennai Province
[From “Jesuits 2022 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

LIBA, a Jesuit Business School that walks with the excluded.

He is a faculty member who teaches finance. He comes from a conservative Hindu family. Recently trained on Ignatian discernment, Professor Lakshmi Narayanan says, “Ignatian discernment has changed the way I make decisions. Now I have learnt to recognise internal movements, orientations, and intentions, while making decisions. I see things differently now. Even my teaching is different.” He says that he has become an Ignatian though he is a Hindu.

Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), in the Jesuit Chennai Province (CEN), one of the premier business schools in India, implements the Universal Apostolic Preferences (UAPs), particularly, “walking with the poor, the outcasts of the world, those whose dignity has been violated, in a mission of reconciliation and justice.” The institution has reoriented the ways for the students to learn and for the professors to teach. The orientations of the UAPs have changed the approach of what a business school should do in the formation of future business leaders. The faculty and students use the method of spiritual conversation for decision making. And some professors have published research papers in professional journals on the use of this method. This has made an enormous impact in the lives of both faculty and students.


“Although I am a Catholic by birth, the exposure I got to the UAPs of the Jesuits has changed my view of life. Now, I see Christ differently. The content and method of my teaching have changed. I tell the students that making impact in the lives of people is more important than merely making profit,” says Dr. Siluvai Raja, who teaches entrepreneurship in LIBA.

Catherine Alex, in her MBA second year, says, “Every day, I see the Ignatian quotes displayed all over the Institute and the UAPs that inspire the Jesuit Fathers. Unconsciously they have entered into my heart and now I am convinced that I should do something different with my life to help the poor and also to care for the earth.”

The students spend time in Dalit villages for a rural immersion experience to understand the pain of the marginalised. That has a great influence in their learning through different courses. Last year they went to villages near Harur Mission of the Chennai Province. During their reflection sharing, many students said that they had seen what real life of the poor Dalit women and children was and how it made an impact on their learning. Elma Evangeline, a second-year student, said, “The plight of the poor Dalit children we saw in the school in Harur changed me totally. It was a conversion of heart; I am a new Elma now. When I will work in a company, this experience is going to guide my life in the business world.”


In addition to focussing on nurturing rural entrepreneurs and supporting Dalit women, the C.K. Prahalad Centre for Emerging India of LIBA has opted to work with the transgenders. After her training in computer technology skills, Gayathri, one of the transgenders, says, “I was a sex worker. For me every day was hell. I said ‘enough is enough.’ I wanted to start a new life. So, I joined the skilling programme of LIBA, and I learnt how to use a computer. I am so happy that now I have got a job in Chennai Metro Rail. I have no words to thank LIBA: it has given me a new life. For me, LIBA is a god who showed me a way.” LIBA’s working with the transgenders has made an impact among students and faculty. A faculty member said, “I always had a fear of seeing any transgenders; I thought they were not normal people. I hated going near them. When I was asked to assist in the skilling programme, although initially I hesitated, I began to like them and the energy with which they work is very inspiring. I see them differently now.” Some students of LIBA who helped in the training said that it had led to a personal conversion, and they changed the way they had seen the transgenders. One of them said, “When I go to the business world, I will make sure that I employ transgenders in the company where I work.”

To sum up, the UAPs help the students and faculty to see everything from a new angle. I believe it will have a huge influence in the corporate world where they will be involved. As a Jesuit working in a business school, I make every effort to keep the UAPs as points of reference and horizon in guiding the faculty and students. I tell them, “In a Jesuit Business School, the life of the poor and marginalised must be at the core of the formative process throughout the MBA course.” They understand this and in fact they align with this vision. This provides me with a new way of seeing my “life mission.”

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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