Tej-Prasarini (The Diffuser of Light) is a Media and Communication Institution run by the Salesians of Don Bosco (Mumbai Province). It combines multimedia production with training in creativity and media education for peace. It is a member of SIGNIS, the World Catholic Association for Communication.
Tej-Prasarini began in 1992 as a modest audio-cassette initiative in response to the catechetical needs of a rural Christian population in central Maharashtra. It was to be the vernacular ministry of the already existing Salesian Catechetical Centre, Pune, which had for its motto, A Commitment to ‘Spread Light’. This theme inspired the title, Tej-Prasarini. In 1993 it was relocated to the Salesian Provincial House in Mumbai, the media capital of India. In 1995, it was approved as the official multimedia production centre of the Salesian Province of Mumbai. Thus, Tej-Prasarini expanded. It began producing books and audiovisual materials in English, Marathi and Hindi. Its productions were based on a variety of themes, such as Catechetics, Youth Development, Media Education and Peace initiatives. It catered to the needs of different audiences like parents, youth-leaders and teachers of various educational institutions. It began training programmes that developed a critical awareness with regard to themes like media, creativity, love and peace. Moreover, it began to network with schools and other like-minded centres of learning, thereby earning the reputation of an institution to equip educators with media resources for social change.
In 2001, the demand for youth-related audio-video material led to the setting up of a recording studio, named Tej-Kiran (Ray of Light). Major training programmes that involve large numbers are held in an auditorium that is shared with Don Bosco Youth Services located in the same edifice. In 2004, Bosco Information Service was also created as part of an all-India network in the collection and dissemination of Salesian news.Among its many activities, the salient initiatives worthy of mention are as follows:
- Music Ministry
- Quality Life Education (QLE)
- Video Discussion Kits
- National Communication Plan for Salesian Formation
- Collaboration with UNICEF
- Peace Campaign
The idea of ‘Tej-Prasarini’ first began in the villages of drought-stricken Ahmednagar, about 250 kilometres from Mumbai. Here the rural folk continue to proclaim their beliefs through community prayer songs called bhajans. Early experiments in recording some of these expressions of faith, gave birth to the idea of preserving and promoting them in the form of audio-cassettes. The recordings thus executed were sold back at discounted rates to the villagers who were delighted to hear their own music through their domestic cassette-radio players. After the modest success of this initiative, and with its base shifted to Pune, Tej-Prasarini launched out into more professional recordings. Collaboration with the late pioneering Marathi lyricist and Radio Evangelist of Pune, Mr. Jayantkumar Tribhuvan, greatly improved the quality of the Marathi productions. The shift to Mumbai in 1993 further boosted music recordings in English and Hindi. Feedback has shown that the songs have proved extremely useful to religious educators in schools and parishes.
Quality Life Education (QLE)
One of the greatest contributions of Tej-Prasarini to the field of secular education (education open to people of all beliefs) is the QLE series. Each volume is a manual of ready lesson-plans for educators to be used in formal and non-formal educational settings. The themes chosen are meant to promote values through a reflection and discussion on reality-based issues. The contexts within which they are presented are thoroughly South Asian. The pedagogy promoted is participatory and interactive. The titles are: Exercises in Media Education, Exercises in Education to Love, Exercises in Education to Creativity, and Exercises in Peace Education. Each of these volumes is followed up by courses for educators who are trained on how the manuals can be profitably used. Media Education and Peace Education, in particular, have attracted sizeable participation from various educational corners of India.
Video Discussion Kits
In order to promote the QLE project more educational tools were needed. In the age of moving images one could not ignore the absolute necessity of providing video resources on issues contained in the manuals. At the same time it was necessary to make these video productions independent of the manuals to serve a wider audience, even beyond a formal curriculum. Thus the Video Discussion Kits took shape. They were designed for young adults to develop healthy critical thinking skills on life-based issues. Once again the underpinning thrust was towards networking with socially conscientious video-documentary producers. Their productions had to be streamlined to facilitate short and relevant group discussions. The final product was a sleek kit for education.
National Communication Plan for Salesian Formation
Tej-Prasarini played a leading role in coordinating the first ever attempt at creating a national plan for training Salesians in Media and Social Communication. The time of training covered nine years, from the pre-novitiate to the third year of theology. Co-ordination of the project involved putting together ideas, designing a master plan and soliciting contributions from various experts in the fields of communication, education, psychology, philosophy and theology. The project was nicknamed an ‘experiment’ on account of the almost impossible task of matching breadth and scope with quality and depth. The final result, ready by the year 2000, was a 400 page tome, entitled, Shepherds for an Information Age. The logistics involved the coordination of nine province delegates around a single project through the length of two years. Five national seminars were held through 2001 to promote its implementation.
Collaboration with UNICEF
In 2001, Tej-Prasarini had yet another opportunity in networking. It was invited to collaborate with UNICEF on the promotion of ‘AIDS Awareness’ among school children. The programme involved the participation of students from three zones in India in the creation of original short films on the topic. They were taught the process of communication, given opportunities to meet doctors and HIV positive patients, devise questionnaires, conduct surveys on the public awareness of HIV/AIDS in their localities, and write a telefilm script based on the findings of their survey. On the occasion of World AIDS Day 2002, the project director Mr. Ajay Kanchan, UNICEF, Delhi and one who conceived the Innovative Communication Project on HIV/AIDS also received the President’s Award from President Abdul Kalam in Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Award was in recognition for the innovative process of involving adolescents to talk to peers on HIV/ AIDS. Tej-Prasarini, Don Bosco Communications, Matunga had implemented the project in Mumbai.This project in the Mumbai Nodal centre was carried out under the supervision of Darryl D’Souza, SDB, Director of Tej-Prasarini; Mr. Sanjay Jha, Film-maker and Programme coordinator of the Project; Tej-Prasarini staff in collaboration with 8 schools in Mumbai and active support from UNICEF.
The same year, Tej-Prasarini intensified its campaign for promoting peace, especially in the western region of India. The promotion constituted three principle stages in the journey towards peace, namely, preparation, production and promotion. On November 13, 2003, the first ‘Don Bosco Film Festival on Peace’ was held. Thirteen short films on peace were screened, all of them made by students of seven schools and colleges. The best film was aired on Doordarshan, the national television network.
The Visit of the Rector Major Rev Fr. Pascual Chavez, SDB
The Media coordination for the visit of the Rector Major Rev Fr. Pascual Chavez, SDB from February 8 – 11, 2007 was done by Tej-Prasarini, Don Bosco Communications. Tej-Prasarini published the book “A Symphony of Love – The Rector Major speaks to the Province of Mumbai”.
Dubai International Film Festival in association with UNICEF and Tej-Prasarini
UNICEF in collaboration with Tej-Prasarini and Dubai International Film Festival organized a five-day residential workshop on film-making from October 27-31, 2007. Twenty students from various schools in Mumbai participated in this workshop. Actor Jackie Shroff was the chief guest at the workshop.
Media Workshop for Bishops
Tej-Prasarini conducted a 5 day Media Workshop for the Bishops of India on the theme “Shepherds of the Media Age” from March 3-7, 2008 at Don Bosco Provincial House, Matunga in Mumbai. Nearly 18 bishops attended the workshop. The workshop was organized by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) Commission for Social Communications in collaboration with Tej-Prasarini. The workshop featured training in computer skills and included significant sessions in Pastoral Communication Skills, New Trends in Media, Internet & Email, Computer Applications, PowerPoint and Video Conferencing.
Fr. Joaquim Fernandes, SDB, was appointed as the media convener for India’s first ever Indian Mission Congress on the theme ‘Let Your Light Shine’, christened Prabhu Yesu Mahotsav. It was inaugurated by the Vatican Ambassador to India and the representative of Pope Benedict XVI, Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana at the St. Pius College, Goregaon, Mumbai. It was held from October 14-18, 2009. More than 100 bishops, hundreds of priests, nuns and lay people travelled from India’s 164 dioceses in representation of the country’s three different rites: Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankar.
Communications for Pastoral Leadership
In 2000 the CBCI approached Tej-Prasarini with the request to produce a syllabus for diocesan seminaries similar to the manual, Shepherds for an Information Age. However, it was only in 2010 that the work was completed by the then Executive Secretary of the CBCI Commission for Social Communications, Fr. George Plathottam, SDB; the National Salesian Coordinator for Communication, Fr. Louis Kumpiluvelil, SDB; and the Principal of Divyadaan, Nashik, Fr. Robert Pen, SDB. The series in three volumes is entitled Communications for Pastoral Leadership. The books were inaugurated by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on February 12, 2011. These three books have been published by Don Bosco Communications India, Tej-Prasarini, and the CBCI Commission for Social Communications.
Worldwide Relic Pilgrimage of Don Bosco visits the Mumbai Province
Tej-Prasarini coordinated and managed the media during the visit of the relic of St. John Bosco to the Salesian Province of St. Francis Xavier, Mumbai from August 12-16, 2011. A commemorative souvenir was published by Tej-Prasarini and a documentary on “Don Bosco Among Us” was released by Fr. Michael Fernandes, SDB, Provincial of Mumbai. At the same event, an audio CD “Don Bosco – A witness to Light” was released by His Eminence Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay.
SIGNIS INDIA National Assembly
The IX SIGNIS INDIA National Assembly was organized by SIGNIS INDIA in association with Tej-Prasarini, Don Bosco Communications at Don Bosco Matunga, Mumbai from February 24-28, 2012. The theme of the convention was “Creating Images for a Better Tomorrow”. SIGNIS is a non-governmental organization that includes members from 140 countries. It has a consultative statute with UNESCO, ECOSOC (United Nations as in Geneva and New York, the council of Europe). Every year SIGNIS INDIA engages all the members in serious discussion on current topics prevalent in the world. This convention had 90 delegates attending the convention from all across India.
Don Bosco Creativity Workshops
Tej-Prasarini provides a creative platform for young people especially from poorer families who are unaware of their talents and do not have much time during the scholastic year to pursue their interests. The workshops are proficiently designed by professional tutors to enable participants develop their creative skills. Courses are offered in speech, drama, guitar, keyboard, dance, film making and media education. To these skill-training courses, one may also add the six-day Master Your Mind workshop and Mid-Brain Activation held in the month of August for children, youth and adults.
Today, the building in which Tej-Prasarini is located has a media centre where items of many other production houses on catechetical, educational and development themes are available for purchase.
Leadership at Tej-Prasarini changed hands three times. Fr. Peter Gonsalves, SDB, was the founder-director. He was succeeded by Fr. Darryl D’Souza, SDB, in April 2001. From May 2006, Fr. Joaquim Fernandes, SDB, took over as Director continues to guide and broaden the vision of Tej-Prasarini.