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Farewell Message from the Past President

e-Jain Digest I e-Jain Digest 2009 

Dear Sadharmik brothers and sisters:

For the 2007-2009 term, I had the privilege to serve as JAINA President. I enjoyed the job enormously – it gave me a chance to visit many Jain Centers. I met many volunteers and leaders of the Jain communities in North America, India and other countries. I realized what a precious gem we have here in North America - the largest Jain community outside India living as a community without any distinctions based on sect, language or region. Our dear organization is about to enter fourth decade of its existence and we can all be proud of the intellectual gift from visionaries like Gurudev Shri Chitrabhanuji and Acharya Shri Sushil Kumarji who serve as an example of Jain Unity admired world over.

During my term in office as President, JAINA achieved many milestones:

  • NGO STATUS to JAINA: The UN recognized JAINA as a humanitarian organization and JAINA was awarded an NGO status of the Economic and Social Council. Now we have opportunities to express Jain point of view where issues of Aid or Development are discussed at the world body.
  • Updated JAINA Constitution: After six years of deliberations, changes to the 1994 Constitution were finalized, debated and approved by the overwhelming majority of the JAINA Directors.
  • JAINA Headquarters: Established the JAINA headquarters at the Jain Center of America (NY), the birthplace of JAINA. For very first time, JAINA has a physical place (Not a post office box number) where our members or scholars arriving from India can visit.
  • MANGALAM: A weekly ½ hour TV show was launched highlighting JAINA’s activities.
  • A liaison office for JAINA in Mumbai: This enables JAINA to perform useful functions such as small banking transactions or mass mailing in India with ease.
  • The Campus Outreach initiative of JAINA will help establish Jain Students Associations on campuses connecting our youth to local Jain centers and also facilitate contact with each other.
  • JAINA DIASPORA: A forum JAINA established for the Jain communities all over the world to come together and discuss common issues. JAINA’s leadership role in this movement is endorsed and admired by many Jain leaders worldwide.
  • E library scanned 200,000 pages of Jain Literature and put it on web making more than 2300 Jain books in English, Gujarati, Hindi, Sanskrit or Prakrit available to students and scholars world over.
  • JAINA Convention even during the hard economic times of 2009 was a great success.

All of the above is a result of hard work by countless number of volunteers and goodwill of JAINA members. We have to continue to build upon these achievements and take JAINA to even greater heights. The whole Jain world is looking at JAINA for leadership in forging Jain unity. JAINA’s credibility and reputation is unlike that of any other organization.

As I look back on my years in JAINA, I must say what an honor it was to serve as JAINA President for the 2007-2009 term. I met hundreds of Jain leaders, scholars and volunteers all over North America and overseas. I attended Pratistha Mahotsavs at many Jain centers and participated in International conferences. It afforded me opportunities to learn how precious a gift of Jainism is to us. I observed various trends in Jain communities at various Jain centers, in our youth and also how our senior citizens are persevering in this adopted land of ours. All in all, I am grateful for the chance given to me to serve.

Looking forward, allow me to express my thoughts on the following:

I sincerely believe that a two-year term is too short a period for any President to plan and implement its agenda for a large organization like JAINA. JAINA’s programs have a far-reaching impact on Jain communities not only in North America but also all over the world. Proposing new ideas, debating, developing consensus and implementing them do take time. Another big concern of mine relates to JAINA’s financial health. As a largest organization of Jains with worldwide recognition, JAINA is also unique in that it has no assured source of funding for its core activities. A capital drive that will create a corpus fund needs to be created.

Lastly, I would like to plead that in addition to the electronic format, JAINA should also continue to publish the printed version of JAIN DIGEST as has been done since 1985. While electronic edition of JAIN DIGEST on the web is an excellent idea, majority of our readership is not ready to switch from print to electronic media. Past leaders and volunteers have invested a lot of sweat capital in creating and sustaining JAIN DIGEST since it’s founding in 1985. It is a powerful communication tool and a visual reminder of JAINA’s existence. More than 1,000 copies are mailed overseas to Jain Centers, libraries and community leaders in India, UK and other countries. Matrimonial service provided by JAIN DIGEST is one very important service JAINA has provided that helps preserve our culture. Discontinuing the print edition will break faith with almost 1,000 life members who voluntarily contributed to special endowment fund for JAIN DIGEST. For a period of time, both the print edition and the electronic edition can be co published and opinions of all the stakeholders should govern the future decision.

In closing, I want to thank all the friends and well-wishers who advised me and helped me with my work in JAINA specially the board of Directors and members of the Executive Committee with whom I served. It was a privilege to know them and it was a great learning experience for me. I hope to continue to contribute to the advancement of our beloved organization - JAINA. In the spirit of Paryushan Parva and Daslakshana Parva we just observed, I seek everyone’s forgiveness for any hurt feelings I may have caused knowingly or unknowingly during my term as President or in this message. MICHHAMI DUKKADAM.


Dilip V Shah

Past President, JAINA

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