Beginning with my eldest sister and a brother one of my uncles and two aunties as well as a few of my close relatives have made name as teachers, headmasters and headmistress In their foot steps there was possibility for me to become a teacher. But I choose to become a Missionary priest. I came to Gujarat in 1963 and joined the Jesuit Religious Order. Then, led by circumstances I became a journalist and writer. Still I have engaged myself as a teacher sharing my knowledge and experiences with interested students and others in seminars and workshops.
I did journalism studies in London in 1975 and returned to India in 1977 after some work experience in a magazine office in Cincinatti: USA. Then, there were not many people in India with professional training in journalism. So at the request of Indian Catholic Press Association (ICPA) I conducted a month-long workshop in journalism and creative writing for 36 editors of Catholic periodicals in Xavier’ Institute of Communication (XIC) at Mumbai. I gave professional training to people who were fully involved in the print media. As I trained them news reporting, writing and editing my name because famous as a professional journalist in India. With that beginning I was called to conduct two-three journalism and creative writing workshops of two weeks duration every year in different parts of India.
Then from 1980s being elected as a Council Member of the International Catholic Union of the Press (UCIP) I was called to conduct seminars and workshops in journalism and creative writing in our neighbouring countries of Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
Then, I was appointed as the Founder Director and Chief Editor of South Asian Religious (SAR) News service for four years from 1980 to 1983 inclusive. While I was Editor of SAR News I took every year two young person interested in journalism and trained them as professional journalists with both theory and practice. I am happy that my in service training in journalism produced a few journalists who have made name and fame in the field.
After my first year teaching one of the two journalist trainees Tony Joseph went to Secunderabad for an interview to work in an English daily newspaper there. After the interview Tony wrote to me, “Father Varghese thanks to your training I performed well in the interview and I got selected for the job in preference to journalism graduates from Poona University. Thanks”. Today I read Tony’s name in some newspapers and national periodicals as a journalist author of in depth articles. I am happy that people in India take note of Tony’s writing. With Tony the second in service trainee Mr. Jose Kavi is also became a well known journalist as the India Bureau Chief of an Asian News Service UCAN.
After returning from New Delhi I was appointed again as the Chief Editor of DOOT family magazine in 1980. In DOOT office I used to take three to five in-service trainees in journalism and office management. As a teacher of journalism I insisted on two things. Choosing in-service trainees I selected young people who are interested in journalism and are ready for hard work. Second, with my teaching of journalism theory I insisted that my students do a lot of practical work. I used to tell them that with knowledge the ability to perform in writing is most important. I made very clear to them that your skills and ability to put down in black and white is more important than your degree, certificate or a diploma.
I remember that when Bhaskar group newspaper chain started its Ahmedabad edition one of my in-service trainee Mr. Vinod Parmar went for an interview and got an appointment letter with a salary double of what mass circulated ‘Sandesh’ and ‘Gujarat Samachar’ were then paying to their reporters.
Then, St. Xavier’s College, Ahmedabad got permission from UGC to start journalism course as a Career Oriented Programme, I was called to prepare a syllabus and the college principal asked me to conduct the programme for interested college boys and girls. In the first few years I enjoyed teaching journalism to the students as only interested students signed for the journalism and they attended lectures did home work regularly.
Later one or other Career Oriented Programme became compulsory for Arts Faculty students and many without any interest signed up for journalism. I lost interest in teaching such students, who did not attend lectures regularly. I was happy then that by then a dynamic Jesuit Fr. Vinayak Jadav came and took over the responsibility for conducting the journalism programme. After continuing to give lectures in a few more years I gave up teaching journalism in the college spending more time in my reading and writing hobbies. But I continued conducting journalism and creative writing workshops and seminars for short duration to interested youth in Gujarat and other parts of India.
Apart from teaching journalism in the college and conducting workshops and seminar I was also writing articles and essays on different topics of journalism and creative writing. As a result in 2008 I submitted a collection of such articles to a well known publisher, Rannade Prakashan who published my book entitled “Writing and Journalism” in Gujarati. Reviewing my book an eminent writer-critic and poet Mr. Yoseph Macwan wrote critical essay, which the literary magazine ‘Parab’ published it. In the review Mr. Yoseph Macwan wrote, “Without any doubt Fr. Varghese’s book ‘Writers and Journalists’ may be considered the bible of those who wishes to become journalists.”
As a teacher I am delighted to share my knowledge and wisdom with interested students. For me education is not mere sharing my knowledge and experiences. My greatest joy in teaching is my contribution to the shaping and moulding the character of my students. I wish that my values, my ideas help my students to lead a value-based and cultured life. For instances, my joy is to live for others. The success of my life is in living for others. Hence the goal of my teaching is that my students make their lives happy and fruitful by living for others. (Words1024)
Changed On: 01-07-2018
Next Change: 16-07-2018
Copyright Fr. Varghese Paul, SJ – 2018