Theosophical World Congress 2010 - Some thoughts

Based on the feedback received so far, the World Congress seems to be a great success.

Attendance: The congress was well attended by members from various sections and it is a good sign that many have taken the trouble to spend the money and travel to Rome. I was heartened to hear a large contingent of members traveled from Brazil and it only shows that the Brazil Section took the trouble to organize the trip in an efficient manner. They are showing the way to other Sections and let us hope we see more attendance in the next Congress.

Speakers: We are yet to find a charismatic speaker of the caliber of Annie Besant. In such a situation we do the best we can. It is heartening to see lecturers from various sections participated in the program. This is significant. All you need to do is to review the events of 2008 and 2009. The congress presented an opportunity to try to put aside all the dividing and divisive issues and move ahead with the work of TS in a united manner.

Online Streaming: Italian Section need to be congratulated in providing online video streaming of the proceedings and this allowed members across the world to watch the proceedings. It just proves that technology is there and can be used to benefit theosophy, TS and its members. Let us hope such streaming is done at the next International Convention in India. Let us not forget that in India live streaming is commonly used even for broadcasting wedding functions for the benefit of friends and relatives who are unable to personally travel and witness the weddings. So TS should do it and there is still a lot of time left for planning and coordination.

When International Convention is streamed, it can be improved by archiving the broadcast so that members can watch at their convenience without having to deal with time zones in the world. I believe technology is currently available to capture and record live streaming and one of the computer wizzs can help record the streams and perhaps upload to Youtube. Just a thought.

Transcripts: Usually the transcripts and summaries of the lectures and discussions in the congress are published in print media magazines such as The Theosophist. By its very nature, print media is slow and may take months. Now Internet is available and making the transcripts and summaries available in pdf format will both make them quickly available as well as have a wider world-wide audience. After all, even for print media, the composing is done using a word processor and from there, generating a pdf file takes very little effort.

Assessment by General Secretaries: It would be a good idea for each GS to prepare a short write-up of their impressions of the world congress. It would be useful in their sections and with Internet, they could be made available to everyone in the world.

What was missing in the congress: It is nice to talk and discuss about various theosophical ideas and concepts. It is when you apply them in the lodges and sections that we are able to find out if TS is growing or contracting. It is a fact that TS membership has been steadily growing in India. And outside India, it is either declining or non-growing. I wish there was a session where the issue of problems with attracting new members and activities in general were discussed. Membership growth issue is a political hot potato and no one wants to touch it. I hope at least in the next World Congress, a day is reserved for this important practical issue.

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