SIGNIS India held National Seminar, and the National Assembly elects new office bearers for the year 2023 – 2027

‘The digital world has created an enormous revolution in the world with a totally new environment. At the same time, the world is in unrest.  The Ukraine-Russia war, the threat of nuclear war, the communal disharmony, religious intolerance, persecution, and ill-treatment of minorities and Dalits take away the peace from our society and families. News media is full of events such as criminal cases, murders, suicides, robberies, and anti-social activities. We live in this type of digital world.

We are here to reflect on the theme ‘Peace in the digital world’, to find a way out so that we create an atmosphere of peace for our families to live in peace, a special gift from God’,said, Bishop Oswald Lewis, Bishop of Jaipur during his inaugural address on the occasion of  SIGNIS India National Seminar on ‘Peace in the Digital World’ and the Assembly  held from 22-24 November 2022 at Gyanadeep Bhavan, the Pastoral Centre, Jaipur.

Around 80 participants from 12 SIGNIS India regions participated in the event, which was the first offline event after COVID that limited our physical meetings severely.  

Fr. Stanley Kozhichira, the President of SIGNIS India welcomed all the members to the assembly. While thanking the delegates for inspiring each other through their media training and productions, he stressed the need of listening to people with the ear of our heart, the call was given by Pope Francis for media professionals to continue their mission more effectively.

Fr.Ambrose Pitchaimuthu, the national director of the Pontifical Mission Organization was felicitated by Bishop Oswald Lewis. ‘The Indian Press needs to realize its responsibility and listen to the issues of people’ said Dr.Sunny Sebastian, the former Vice-Chancellor of the Haridev Joshi University of Journalism and Mass Communication during his keynote address.

He also highlighted the factors that prevent the press from echoing the voices of people and suggested alternative measures during the session well moderated by Sr. Nisha.

‘Let us spend quality time with our family members, listening to each other instead of spending time with gadgets’ said Dr. Magimai Pragasam during the Panel discussion on ‘Media, family, and youth’ moderated by Sr. Michelle Mathias of NISCORT. ‘We need to understand, acknowledge, and appreciate youth if we want them to journey along with us’ said Mr. Thomas George of Udaipur while sharing on Youth and digital media.

During the last panel discussion well moderated by Sr. Joyeanna, Dr.Amit Verma of Manipal University, Dr. Feroz Kkhan of CITM College, Jaipur, Mr. Yogesh Kanava, Station Manager of IGNOU, Jaipur, and Dr. Abhishika Sharma of Manipal University spoke on ‘peace and communication, Indian media scenario, the influence of digital media in social life and digital pathways for peace’ that enriched the delegates deeply. 

During the business day of the association, besides sharing of the annual report, screening committee report and reports of activities carried out by members, the assembly also elected the new officer bearers for the period 2022 – 2026.

Fr. Victor Vijay Lobo, the former director of Canara Communications centre as well as Sandesha Foundation for culture and education, The Karnataka Regional centre for Social Communication was elected as the new President of SIGNIS India. He served as the SIGNIS India Secretary cum Treasurer for two terms from 2014 to 2022. Known for his cordial relationship with the members and helping nature, Fr. Victor Vijay Lobo was chosen by the delegates to lead the association till 2027.

Mr. Sumit Dhanraj, a Media Education Trainer and a Certified NLP Practitioner by NFNLP Florida, USA, a language Instructor, and a freelance journalist was elected as the Vice-President of the association. He is a visiting faculty in seminaries and NISCORT.

Rev. Dr. David Arockiam, the CEO of Madha TV, was elected as the Secretary of the association. He studied MA at Gregorian University and completed his doctorate at Holy Cross Pontifical University, Rome. He is also the Secretary and Treasurer of the Commission for Social Communication of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council and the Executive secretary for the Radio Veritas Asia Tamil Section.

Fr. Sebastian Milton Kalappurakkal was elected as the Treasurer of the Association. He is specialized in Film editing and cinematography and produced over 1,000 videos for the Jeeva News YouTube channel in Kerala. He is also the current Secretary cum treasurer of SIGNIS Kerala.

Fr. C.R. Justy was elected as the Screening Committee member for the next four years. Fr. Justy completed his MSc in Mass Communications, Advertisement, and Journalism and a PG diploma course in Cinema. He has written and directed over 50 short and long stage plays and currently he works in the Communication Department of Nav Sadhana, the Regional Pastoral Centre, Varanasi.

Sr. Tessy Jacob, a Holy Spirit sister was elected as the Screening Committee member. Sr. Tessy completed her MA in Journalism and Media Communications from Christ University, Bangalore. She is currently pursuing her doctoral studies at Xavier University, Bhubaneshwar. She worked as the Province coordinator for Communication Ministry and also as the Joint secretary of ICPA for three years.

Speaking on behalf of the newly elected team of officers, Fr. Vijay Lobo assured the members to explore innovative methods to reach out to the masses at large with the ‘Good News’ and support members to reach new heights in their mission in the future.

At the end of the sessions, the delegates expressed their joy and satisfaction over the well-spent days in Jaipur, the days that will linger in their mind for days to come.

Report by Dr Magimai Pragasam