In the News

In the News:
GBC meetings days 5 & 6

by Janaka Mahajana das

Posted March 14, 2005

Day 5 of the GBC Meetings
3 March 2005

The notes for this fifth day are brief because the GBC members met in subcommittees all morning. Then they convened to conduct straw voting.

One vote concerned a proposal from the Child Protection Office to modify the original Task Force Document. The main change has to do with the Appeal Review Board. Ten additional recommendations were proposed concerning other points.

The GBC then discussed a last-minute proposal made by Bhaktarupa Prabhu that Pragosh Prabhu become the International Chief Executive Officer for three years. Previously, there was a resolution calling for a Chief Liason Officer, but the post was not filled. The job description for the new officer states that, among other things, he should study the potential to raise funds at large for the GBC's work. The present GBC budget is only $40,000 per year, raised by taxing temples, and some new system of fund-raising is needed, said various members. Sivarama Swami objected that fund-raising is the duty of local GBCs and thus this proposal will undermine that. Some members argued for more flexibility. The job description also included coordinating the functioning of the GBC Secretariat and the ISKCON Ministries, and promoting the GBC to ISKCON at large. Badrinaryana Prabhu questioned whether one person can do all this on top of his or her other services.

Day 6 of the GBC Meetings
4 March 2005

Ambarisa Prabhu updated the GBC members on the progress of the Sri Mayapur Project, its accounts, campaign goals, the start of temple construction, strategic planning.

A yellow helium-filled balloon, four hundred feet high, is out in the field, marking where the sikhara of the temple will be. The members stepped out on the balcony to take a look at it.

Abhirama Prabhu and Pada-sevanam Prabhu continue to work on the temple design. Many working drawings are being produced; this is a time-consuming stage of the project.

Ambarisa Prabhu took over as the managing director a year ago. Ambarisa Prabhu has been meeting government officials to gain their support for the project. He is emphasizing how to create jobs for the people of West Bengal. The District Magistrate in Krishnagar will meet with Ambarisa Prabhu today about that.

During the last eight years, the character of the building was been changed to cut the projected cost by 80%. Gopal Bhatta Prabhu agreed to become the SMPDC treasurer as of tomorrow and will engage top professionals in financial management. This project is Ambarisa Prabhu's top priority and life's work, he said.

There have been some new members invited to join the SMPDC to create a broader, more effective group. The present members are Jaya Pataka Swami, Gopal Krishna Maharaja, Abhirama Prabhu, and Ambarisa Prabhu. New invitees throughout the year have included: Bhakti Caru Swami, Gopal Bhatta Prabhu, Bir Krsna Maharaja, Bhakti Purusottama Swami, Badrinaryana Prabhu, the (incoming and outgoing) chairs of the EC of the GBC, Bhima Prabhu, Pancaratna Prabhu, and Praghosa Prabhu. The GBC at its meeting voted in favor of adding Radhanath Swami, Anuttama Prabhu and Rukmini Dasi. Then all those on this list were voted in as members.

The GBC then discussed the resolution to form the Sri Mayapur Project Society to oversee the project.

Finally, Ambarisa Prabhu made concluding remarks calling for full commitment and enthusiasm and Krishna consciousness.

The Germany Emergency was discussed next. The yatra created a four-step plan for 2005-2007: (1) to inform everyone, to create awareness of its problems; (2) to list (a) the creditors and (b) possibilities to settle the debts (over euro 900,000 from failed projects); (3) to restructure the yatra to avoid the problems that the yatra faced when previous leaders left (such as, oaths of loyalty, regular reporting, no loans, etc.); (4) it created an office to consult with devotees who have grievances, including the offer of professional help if needed. Separating the emotional issues from the financial issues has helped. The problems of the Austrian yatra were briefly discussed, too, because Ravindra Swarupa may become its GBC. A straw vote was taken to help the yatra in various ways mentioned in a proposed resolution.

Next the GBC held a straw vote on the appointment of about twenty-five existing deputies for three more years. They are not geographically representative nor do all of them come every year.

The next straw vote was on a rule of order concerning the appointment of new deputies. The responsibilities of the deputies were described, as were procedures for adding them.

Next they took a straw vote on a proposal that endorses the grhasta ashram and community development. It listed a number of points assembled by five organizations banded together in the Vaishnava Family Resources group. Some discussion took place about putting out a similar endorsement for brahmacaris. Some of the advantages of encouraging grhastas were discussed. Jayapataka Swami asked whether the GBC could give it more support than just an endorsement: e.g., could the GBC suggest a referral person (like the Grahasta Minister).

Subcommittee meetings then continued until lunch.