By Sraddhadevi dasi
GBC AGMâ€”February 25th, 2011
After concluding four days of strategic planning, the International Society for Krishna Consciousnessâ€™ (ISKCON) Governing Body Commission (GBC) resumed their regular Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Mayapur, West Bengal.
Friday, February 25th was entirely dedicated to reviewing proposals submitted to the GBC by various ISKCON members and committees. Proposal topics have a wide range- from adjusting temple standards, to refining the role of particular committees, to establishing new offices and services in ISKCON.
GBC deputies, a second tier GBC body composed of approximately twenty-five devotees from around the world, assist the GBC in managing proposals. Deputies gather in Mayapur several weeks before the GBCâ€™s Annual General Meeting and work long hours to review and clarify all proposals. For each proposal, deputies discuss in-depth and generate a list of pluses, minuses, and points of interest, which are later presented to the GBC along with the specific proposal. The GBC body then discusses each proposal at great length and takes a straw vote in favor or against a proposal. GBCs can also vote to send the proposal back to the initiators for more information or clarification. Toward the end of the AGM, these proposals are again presented to the GBC body for a final vote on the issue.
As with most years, this yearâ€™s proposal topics covered a wide range, from the relationship between ministries and standing committees to guidelines for kirtan standards in temples. One proposal in particular addressed a service that many ISKCON members may not be aware ofâ€”the ISKCON Resolveâ€™s Ombuds Office.
ISKCON Resolve was established by the GBC in 2002 as an independent office to assist devotees in resolving problems or concerns that they feel they can otherwise not resolve on their own. The Ombuds Office is a more recent service offered by ISKCON Resolve to provide an opportunity for devotees to confidentially voice any questions or concerns, or to simply request clarification or information on an ISKCON-related topic. The Ombuds Office does not process formal complaints, but it is an independent, neutral, informal, and free resource to all devotees affiliated with ISKCON.
Braja Bihari dasa, one of the founders of ISKCON Resolve, presented to the GBC a proposal for the Ombuds Office â€śTerms of Referenceâ€ť, meaning an official document describing the structure, systems, and purpose of the Ombuds Office. Braja Bihari dasa explained that since its inception in 2002, ISKCON Resolve has processed 2300 cases. Of further significance is that, although ombuds offices are becoming common within universities and corporations, ISKCON is the first spiritual organization to establish an ombuds office on an international basis. If you would like more information on services provided by ISKCON Resolve and its Ombuds Office, please visit www.iskconresolve.com.
The remainder of the meeting session was spent continuing the review process of additional proposals. Final voting on proposals will most likely take place on March 2nd.