Indian appointed Salesian representative at UN
Rome: An Indian priest will now represent the Salesians at the United Nations. Salesian Rector Major Father Ángel Fernández Artime nominated Father Thomas Pallithanam from the Salesian Hyderabad province to the post on June 20.
The 67-year-old priest succeeds Father Thomas Brennan, who represented the Salesians at the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) since the Catholic religious order was granted official Consultative status in 2007.
Father Pallithanam has advocated and lobbied for the young and the needy at the national and international levels for the past three decades.
At UN, he will function in collaboration with the Salesian Councilor for Youth Pastoral and the General Council for Missions and with the Economer General, who manages Salesian finances globally.
Father Pallithanam, a native of Kerala, southern India, is currently the National Coordinator of “Wada Na Todo Abhiyan” (don’t break the promise), a large federation of Indian non-governmental organizations that monitors the activities of the federal and state governments, and promote dialogue between civil society and public authorities.
The priest also represents India at the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, a worldwide alliance between numerous platforms and organizations for combating poverty.
Father Pallithanam has held many other positions: director of the People’s Action for Rural Awakening, an NGO dedicated to defending Dalit’s rights (the Untouchables).
Through this Ngo, he promoted the organization of roughly 1,000 Clubs of Human Rights in 525 government schools in India. He was also the spokesperson of the Child Care Committee of the East Godavari District; Coordinator of Andhra Pradesh Social Observatory; Coordinator of the “Dalit Bahujan” Resource Center, which supports the activities of 120 Dalit activists.
Father Pallithanam is credited with leading countless events and campaigns that promoted society’s poorest and neediest by raising awareness of their human rights, participating in conferences, congresses and international initiatives as well as the curating of reports and scientific publications on the same themes.
He has lived Ravulapalem, a small mission station in Andhra Pradesh for the past 26 years. He will assume his new post in September this year.
The ECOSOC is a consultative and coordinating body of the United Nations for Economic and Social Activities, and the various organizations associated with them. Among its tasks are the programming of economic development and technical and financial assistance to the less developed countries as well as the promotion of studies or reports on economic, social, cultural, educational and health issues.