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First International 2011

BPHE Society’s

Centre for Studies in Rural Development

Institute of Social Work and Research

Station Road, Ahmednagar

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International Seminar on Spirituality, Religion and Social Work

27-29 December, 2011

(Brief Report)

Over the past three decades there has been extensive exploration of spirituality and religion in its connection with social work. Religion has played a central role in the development of social work as a profession. Religious ideas and teachings have influenced the development of social work concept in general and the principles and values in particular. In order to explore the connections between ‘Religion, Spirituality and Social Work’ an international conference was organized at the Institute on 27 – 29 December 2012. Altogether 37 papers were presented in 14 sessions.109 registered participants including delegates from International and national level organizations took part in the Conference. Eminent scholars, researchers, practitioners, trainers and the representatives of various organizations participated in this conference. Significant participants of the International conference included Dr. NM Austin, Swami Kantananda, Bishop PL Kamble, Prof. Sanjai Bhatt, Fr. Noel Sheth, Sr. Deepa Brahmakumari (Mt. Abu), Dr. Baban Nayak, Prof. Gautam Gawali and Fr. James Ponniah. In order to continue the momentum started by the first International Conference, the second International event has been organized at CSRD Institute of Social Work and Research on 3-5 January 2013.

According to Prof. Sanjai Bhatt from Delhi School of Social Work, University of Delhi who spoke on the occasion of the first International Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Social Work – Exploring Connections at CSRD Institute of Social Work and Research, raising questions, finding some answers and asking further ongoing questions are basic to human beings. Essentially we may claim that humans are questioning animals. He summed up this insight when he tersely claimed: “Quest is us.”

Professor Bhatt is an academician and social worker, “committed to bridging the gap between social work education and practice.” He experiments with different teaching methodologies, works for with grass root organizations. He is associated with a number of social movements and civil society organizations in various capacities. In his experience of social work, he found that one of the fundamental difficulties with us is that we take the easy way out, accept other’s answers and live our lives according to them. Professor Bhatt, who wants “Decent Work for working people in organized and unorganized sector,” urged those in the social work profession to look at life seriously and keep on asking fundamental questions, even if they may be disturbing.

He lamented that fact that academicians do not ask the more serious and fundamental questions on life, its goal and meaning. Many of us are satisfied with the simplistic solutions we have found and persist on those answers, even when the questions have changed. Coming to social workers, though social work is particularly a practical topic, there is also need for deep reflection, questioning and moving on.

It was clearly established in the International Conference that there is a necessary connection between religion, spirituality and social work.

In fact spirituality urges us to question, find some answers and move on. Spirituality does not give us settled foundations, on what we can rest on past laurels or languish in the old misery. Genuine spirituality is not afraid of ambiguities and uncertainties. It cannot stagnate itself in the old answers given by our forefathers.

The easy way out of it is to accept the naïve answers and live as if we have all the answers that we need. Such an attitude leads to fundamentalism and fanaticism. Such an attitude tries to limit the vibrancy and vitality of spirituality that is basically open and dynamic.

At the same time we need to be grateful to the ancient visionaries who had much spiritual resources. The tradition has to be taken seriously and we cannot be enslaved by it. Acknowledging the contribution our forefathers have made and the wisdom they have gained, we need to ask different questions to today’s complex life, which poses very different perspectives and challenges. It will be foolish to apply directly the insights of yesterday to today’s problems, even at the spiritual realm.  In this process we will be living in the present, with openness for the future. The newness of life stems from the human hope that denies the present, at every moment. Thus by raising more questions and seeking further answers, we can organically relate the traditions of the past, with the gift of the present and the challenge of the past.  A spirituality that can provide us with such challenges and opportunities for the present – based on the past traditions and open to the future possibilities – will flourish for the common and collective good of humanity.

These sentiments can be well summed up in the beautiful insight of the greatest scientist and mystic of the last century, Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The most important thing is not to stop questioning.”

With this quest for better answers to live out the future which is ever-growing into more and more complexities, the second International Conference on Spirituality and Social Work:  Enhancing Commitment has been planned on 3-5 January 2013. If dedication, motivation and commitment are important in social work practice, the spirituality is the source of them. The role of spirituality in enhancing commitment in social work practice will be explored in the international context during the forthcoming International Conference.

The international conference on ‘Spirituality and Social Work: Enhancing Commitment’ will provide a forum for fruitful discussion and deliberations on the conference theme. The conference will highlight the role of spirituality in enhancing commitment in social work education and practice. The focus of the Conference is to bring concerned personnel and institutions on a common platform to debate and discuss issues and practices associated with the conference theme. It is expected that the eminent scholars, researchers, practitioners, trainers and the representatives of various organizations will be participating this conference.

The Paper Presentations of the First International Conference on Religion, Spirituality and Social Work, held at CSRD-ISWR, Ahmednagar on 27-29 December 2011

Date SN Session / Speaker Time / Title of Paper
28.12.11 Inaugural session  10.30 – 11.30
Key note session  12.00 – 13.30
Swami Kantananda Key Note address
1 Prof. Gautam Gawali Social Work and Wellbeing: A Psychosocial Perspective
Dr. SK Hulbe Response
Plenary session 1  14.30 – 16.30
2 Fr. Kuruvila Spirituality of Silence and Service: Eastern and Western Approaches to an integrated social work
3 Edward Canda / Suresh Pathare Religion, Spirituality and Social Work: Exploring Connections
4 Pankajkumar Das & Vijay Mane Religion Spirituality in Social Work Ethics: The Indian Perspective
 Parallel Session 1  17.00 – 19.00
5 Tini Dutta &  Debapriya Mallick Spiritual Based Intervention in IDUs and HIV/ AIDS
6 Shweta Gupta and Mukesh Kanaskar Urbanisation and Philanthropic Social Work
7 Olga Real Najjaro / PS Patil Sri Aurobindo, the concept of Spirituality and Religion, and its application in mental health and social work.
8 Dr. Shobha Arole Application of Spirituality and Religion in CRHP
 Parallel Session 2  17.00 – 19.00
9 Khandagale Bharat D. Spiritual & Religious Contribution of Varkari Sampradaya in Social Harmony
10 Pande Rama Achyut Religion and social work : Contribution of Veershaiva in Social  Work Theory Building
11 Gandhi Jitendra  S. & Mahesh P Chougule The roots of Professional Social Work: Examining the religious tenets and Philosophy
12 Jaimon Varghese Religion and Social Work – the Paradigm of Spirituality and Values in Family Based Social Work: A Study on Professional Social Workers
29.12.11 Plenary Session 2  09.30 – 11.00
13 Prof. Gracious Thomas & Dr. Rose Nembiakkim Philanthropic social work: Significance in the 21st Century
14 Prof. Sanjai Bhatt Sikhism and its Social Concerns
15 Mukesh Kanaskar & V.B. Kulkarni Philanthropic Social Work and Professional Social Work: Mutually Exclusive or Synergisric?
Plenary Session 3  11.30 – 13.00
16 Fr. Noel Sheth Buddhist Social Activism in The Contemporary World
17 Sr. Deepa Spirituality and Social Work
18 Dr. Baban Nayak Hindu Modes of Accumulations in Bhagavatgita
 Parallel Session 3  14.30 – 16.00
19 Dr.Bipin Jojo The Role of Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) in Post Communal Violence Orissa
20 Poonam Gulalia Philanthropy and Social Work: A Dichotomy
21 Nilesh Gaikwad &  Ghanshyam B. Jagtap Religious Foundations of Social Work Profession
22 Vijaykumar B. Waghmare Field Based Organisation Model for Field work in Community Setting through Trainee Social Workers
 Parallel Session 4  14.30 – 16.00
23 Siddharth Ghose Ethics in Social Work- An Overview
24 Pandhare Balasaheb Dashrath Freedom of Religion vis-à-vis Secularism: Constitutiional and Statutory perspective
25 Jayshree Salunkhe Impact of Sprituality on Socio-Politival Thinkers
26 More Atul Lalasaheb The Buddhism in the Contemprorary Context of Religion, Morality and Law- Exploring the Connections.
 Parallel Session 5  16.30 – 18.00
27 Durgesh Narpat Valvi Spirituality and Religion in Counselling
28 Jayashree Mehta & S.V. Hippargi Religion Spirituality & Social Work: Spirituality the Heart of all Development
29 Vijaya V. Mahajan Theories of Self- Concept and Spirituality in Social Work
30 Jadhav Abhay & Sandeep Jagdale Understanding and Beliefs of Educators, Practitioners and Students
 Parallel Session 6  16.30 – 18.00
31 K K Kanojia Yoga, Spirtuality and Social Work
32 Kamble Swapnil Mahendra Vipassana and Social Work Education
33 Nisha C. Waghmare Buddhism – The Pioneer of Social work Practices
30.12.11 Plenary Session 4  09.30 – 11.00
34 James Ponniah Discriminating Social Structure and Empowering Religions Resources- a view on Interaction between Vulnerable Groups and Development
35 Shaikh Nazir Jabbar Islam and social work; A Cultural Competency and Source for Social Work Practitioners
Plenary Session 5  11.30 – 13.00
36 Mr. Mihir Mathur, WOTR Adaptive Sustainable Development
37 Dr. Meera Barnabas Faithbased organisations and Social Work Profession with particular reference to Christianity
Valedictory Session  14.30 – 15.30