Thursday, September 30, 2010



Prashant     A  Centre  for  Human  Rights, Justice  and  Peace

                                  Post   Box   No.   4050,    Navrangpura  Ahmedabad  380 009,    Gujarat,    India

                                              Tel. :    +91 (079)  66522333,   2745 5913         .         Fax :   +91 (079)  2748 9018

                                   e-mail :    .






The verdict by the High Court of Allahabad and Lucknow on the Ayodhya land title suit is historic indeed! For sixty years, the country has held its breath waiting for this day.  In the meantime, divisiveness, hatred and violence have ruled the roost.


Some are bound   to feel unsatisfied with the judgment!   They will obviously (and they have a right to do so) appeal to the Supreme Court; however, we all need to respect the judgement and ensure that peace and harmony reign in every corner of our beloved country.


This is not the time for recriminations or for revenge.  In fact, if we truly believe that the land in Ayodhya is sacred, we must also believe that the God we believe in, will not want anything to happen which will be a disgrace to his name; rather, a spirit of healing, reconciliation and tolerance, should now be the order of the day. There should be a new determination to go on ahead where we can all truly accept each other as God's children and as brothers and sisters, of this great land.


The time has now come to close the chapter of a sad and violent history of India and to begin a new chapter where communal harmony, peace and fraternity triumph! We can show the world that we are a mature democracy and that our strength lies in our diversity and respect for all!



Fr. Cedric Prakash sj



30th September, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Appeal for Communal Harmony and Peace..290910






An Appeal for Communal Harmony and Peace



The judgement by the High Court in Lucknow, on the Babri MasjidRamjanmabhoomi title suit is finally expected tomorrow September 30th, 2010.


We once again appeal to all - political, religious and civil society leaders and citizens from all walks of life - to show respect to the judgement and to ensure communal harmony and peace everywhere.


It will be a great opportunity also, to show fascist and fundamentalist forces (with their divisive agenda) that they will never succeed in breaking our country's religious pluralism and our unity in diversity.  It will, above all, be an occasion to demonstrate to the world that we are a democracy which has come of age, by showing utmost restraint should the decision not be in one's favour.


Above all, let us first believe that God lives in the hearts of all men and women!




Fr. Cedric Prakash sj



- - - - - - -     - - - - - - - -    - - - - - - -   - - - - -
PRASHANT   (A Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)
Street Address : Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052, Gujarat, India
Postal Address : P B 4050, Navrangpura PO, Ahmedabad - 380 009, Gujarat, India
Phone : 91  79   27455913,  66522333
Fax : 91  79  27489018

29th September, 2010









































Wednesday, September 22, 2010


          Prashant    A  Centre  for  Human  Rights, Justice  and  Peace

                                                         Post   Box   No.   4050,    Navrangpura,   Ahmedabad  380 009,    Gujarat,    India

                                                                            Tel. :    +91 (079)  66522333,   27455913         .         Fax :   +91 (079)  2748 9018

                                             Mobile :   9824034536 .  e-mail :    .   



                                                                AN APPEAL FOR PEACE IN THE AFTERMATH OF THE AYODHYA JUDGMENT

The verdict on the disputed land in Ayodhya with regard to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi expected on Friday, September 24th, is already creating palpable fear and a sense of insecurity, in different parts of the country.   

Central and State Governments have already brought in additional security forces and several have been detained as a preventive measure. 

Even if the judgment does not find favour with one or the other side, in no way does it legitimize violence or divisiveness.  Rumour-mongering and hate speeches by rabble- rousers are bound to add to the already fragile atmosphere. 

What is important is that every effort be made to transcend the narrow confines of religion and to create an environment that the God of creation is present everywhere and very specially in every human being.

We sincerely appeal to one and all: very specially to the leaders – political, religious and civil - to ensure communal harmony and peace in the wake of the judgment and to help preserve the secular character and diversity of the country.

Fr. Cedric Prakash sj



22nd September, 2010

















































Monday, September 20, 2010

CHALLENGES TO PEACE - 21st September, 2010





(On the occasion of International Day for Peace September 21st 2010)

- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


About 140 heads of State and Government have gathered together at the United Nations Headquarters for a Summit on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The focus of this Summit is to review what each one of them has achieved (and thereby the world at large) of the promises, they made to the world at their Summit in 2000.


Ten years later and with just about five years to 2015, in order to realize their promises – the global leaders will have to admit in all humility, that they still have a long way to go.  Wars and conflicts, violence and divisiveness have had a tremendous stranglehold in various corners of the world.  When peace remains elusive, the MDGs will continue to be unattainable. 


In India, we continue to see and experience violence ruling the roost in different parts: be it in Kashmir or the North-Eastern States; the tribal heartland or Karnataka.  Some of the corporate sectors and the mining lobby have become synonymous with institutionalized violence.


Communalism and religious fanaticism still rears its ugly head with frightening regularity.  The hacking of the hand of a Professor in Kerala and his subsequent sacking from the College he taught in, is a case in point.


December 10th 1992, will remain one of the darkest days in the history of independent India.  The demolition of the Babri Masjid was a clear indicator of how lumpen elements can take law and order into their own hands. The judgment on the disputed site which is expected on September 24th, is awaited with abated breath and a palpable fear by a sizeable section of the citizens, as they wonder whether unbridled violence would once again be the lot of the country.


Peace is not only possible but doable.  Governments and those elected to the responsibility of leading the people must provide governance which is responsible and objective, based on the rights and freedom guaranteed by the Constitution.


Even as we observe another International Day of Peace on September 21st, the one question which will trouble many of us is, if there a political will to ensure that?



(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj  is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


20th September, 2010




Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052

Phone: 79 27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018






Saturday, September 18, 2010

"The Mahatma and the Cardinal" by Fr Cedric Prakash sj



The Mahatma and the Cardinal


- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*


On Sunday September 19th, Pope Benedict XVI will beatify John Henry Cardinal Newman in Birmingham, UK. Beatification, is the very last stage before canonization in the Catholic Church, when a person of exceptional holiness and other qualities, is raised to the altars, as a Saint.


What has perhaps not caught the limelight, however, is the tremendous influence which Newman exerted on Mahatma Gandhi. Newman lived in England from 1801 to 1890. As a young professor, in Oxford University, he proved to be one of the foremost scholars and thinkers of his time, who could hold vast congregations of students and intellectuals, spellbound with his depth, erudite and brilliant communication skills.


He was a restless seeker of the truth and in a major shock to the Victorian establishment and intelligentsia of his times, he left the Church of England to embrace Catholicism. During his Oxford days and thereafter, he was also a prolific and incisive writer. His most well-known poem-prayer is 'Lead, kindly Light', was apparently penned during his quest to do what is right.


In a matter of time, this poem (first published in 1834) became very popular in literary circles and even in Churches in England and in the United States. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who studied in Alfred High School, Rajkot would most probably have come to know about this poem as a school-boy. He would have surely become more acquainted with it as a student of law in London from 1888-1891, just at the time when Newman's death, would have left a deep void in the literary and religious circles of England.


Later on in South Africa, the tremendous impact this poem had on Gandhi, was obvious from the fact that 'Lead, kindly Light' held a unique position as the motto of the Satyagraha movement, which he launched in 1906.


There is an unnerving similarity in the spirituality of both Newman and Gandhi which is reflected in the very first verse of the poem:


"Lead, kindly Light', amid the encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home—
Lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
the distant scene—one step enough for me.!"


Both Newman and Gandhi went through a process of discernment asking for light before they took a crucial next step in their journey ahead. These 'enlightened steps' were indeed turning points, not only in their lives but impacted the lives of several others.  In 1916, after Mahatma Gandhi had established his ashram on the banks of the River Sabarmati, Ahmedabad, 'Lead, kindly Light' had a very special place in the daily prayers of the Ashram.


Gandhi had the prayer translated into Gujarati by Narasimharo Divetia; the initial words read 'Premal Jyoti' (Light of Love). For more than thirty years, several of Gandhi's writings and speeches had a reference either to 'Lead, kindly Light' or to 'one step enough for me'.


Once, when asked the reason for his constant references to Newman and the latter's works, Gandhi quipped,"he is perhaps the only honest Englishman ,I have come across!" On March 10, 1947 Gandhi wrote to Vinobha  Bhave, his closest disciple, "in my prayers, I pray to God to lead me from untruth to truth, isn't the same idea conveyed in 'Lead kindly Light'?"


Somehow, we desperately need to listen today, to the prayer and the promptings of Cardinal Newman and Mahatma Gandhi. 'Satyameva  Jayate!'


18 September 2010


(*Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)


'PRASHANT', Hill Nagar,  Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad  380 052,Gujarat

Tel: 079 66522333, 27455913  Fax:  27489018  Email:

Monday, September 13, 2010

NINE ELEVEN AND MORE !!! by Fr Cedric Prakash



                                                                                       - Fr Cedric Prakash sj*                   


"NINE ELEVEN!" Perhaps, there is no other day in recent memory, that has been so over-defined, by a date. The very mention of it, evokes all kinds of emotions from undiluted hatred

 to a sense of helplessness, in the face of rabid terror; from inconsolable grief at the loss of a loved one to heated debates on imponderables. Yes, "nine eleven 2001",

will forever be etched in the human consciousness, even as the picture of clouds of fire spewing from the Twin Towers in New York, involuntarily take a prime- time seat in our sub-consciousness.


NINE ELEVEN 2010, was extra-special for several millions the world over and specially in Asia. It heralded the end of the holy month of Ramadan for the Muslims as they celebrated Eid,

 with religious fervour and gaiety. For the Hindus, it was the auspicious Ganesh Chaturthi, the start of the ten-day festivities, praying to Lord Ganesha for inner spiritual strength

and for success in all ones endeavours!  In 1893, Lokmanya Tilak popularized Ganesha as a "God for all", and the festival as an occasion for all communities to transcend

the narrow confines of caste and creed. For the Jains, it was Samvatsari, the conclusion of their holy week, Paryushan. On this day, in a magnanimous effort towards reconciliation,

they utter "Michchhami Dukaddam", asking for forgiveness from anyone they might have offended! For the Christians, the day is in the midst of their devotion

to the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as they flock to her various shrines humbly asking that she intercedes to God, to hear their prayers. NINE ELEVEN 2010 was truly a special day!


NINE ELEVEN 1893 - at the very first World Parliament of Religions held in Chicago, Swami Vivekanada  gave an impassioned speech, to end sectarianism,

bigotry, fanaticism and violence from this earth by fostering the values enshrined in every religion.  "I fervently hope",  he said,

"that the bell which tolled this morning in honour of this convention, may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen,

 and of all uncharitable feelings between persons, wending their way to the same goal".


NINE ELEVEN 1906, was another historic day for world! In a mass meeting of Indian, Mahatma Gandhi kick-started his non-violent resistance

 campaign SATYAGRAHA, in pursuit of truth and justice.Very symbolically, this meeting took place on the grounds of the Hamidia Mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa.


NINE ELEVEN 2001, should never be side-stepped, nor should we permit the reality of it to overcome us with prejudice, hatred or revenge.  This will serve no purpose.

  Instead, could we demonstrate the courage to allow the vision and values of  1893, 1906 and 2010, permeate the inner-most core of our being and

as Tagore would say, 'guide us to ever-widening thought and action?'


September 11th,  2010



(*Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of "Prashant", the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)



Address: 'PRASHANT', Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052
Phone: 27455913, 66522333   Fax: 27489018






Wednesday, September 08, 2010




- Fr. Cedric Prakash sj *


In yet another shocking incident, a father sacrificed his new-born girl child on Janmashtami night, in order to propitiate his family deity in Gandhidham, Gujarat.  Apparently, he had vowed that he would offer a male goat to his family deity if a son was born to him, but would sacrifice the child, if a girl was born.


This is surely not a one-off incident to highlight the negative attitude that exists in society towards the girl child. The fact that the child sex ratio in Gujarat is 883 per 1000 males (as compared to the National ratio of 920 per 1000) did raise alarm bells in the State.  Several efforts were made by the Government of Gujarat, the media and by concerned citizen groups to address this reality. It is difficult to gauge the impact of these efforts for want of official data, but a cursory news scan will easily reveal that the general attitude towards women is far from healthy.


When a child is born, an average family will still happily distribute milk-based sweets like 'pedas', if the child is male; but for a girl-child, it necessarily has to be a sweet which is oil-based like 'jalebi'.  Discrimination, one is aware starts early when many families want a boy as the first born.  The school textbooks in Gujarat also reinforce a strong gender bias and the superiority of the male. While several of the Panchayats have women Sarpanches (since it is mandatory), the hard fact is that, they are relegated to "angutho chaap" and to making tea for their husband and other males of the villages, who are very clear that 'decision-making' is their sole prerogative. 


September 8th is celebrated by most Christians the world over as the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus; because of this the Catholic Church in India has also deemed it important to celebrate it as the 'Girl-Child Day'. Discrimination of the girl child often stems from so-called religious sanctions.  Religious leaders be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu or others, must provide the followers of their religions with the necessary attitude and courage to save and celebrate the Girl Child.


(* Fr. Cedric Prakash sj is the Director of 'PRASHANT', the Ahmedabad based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace)

7th September, 2010




Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052 

Phone:  79   27455913, 66522333
Fax:  79 27489018