Friday, May 31, 2013



Gujarat Province Sammelan 2013
This Sammelan was, perhaps, the one that had the longest and most participatory preparation. It came as the culmination of a twoyear process of Strategic Apostolic Planning (SAP). The last General Congregation asked for such a planning, and Gujarat province plunged into it under the clear direction and close involvement of Fr Provincial. Several meetings were held in the seven ‘districts’ of Gujarat. The new understanding that all Jesuits in a ‘district‘ are a community, is evolving. The broad-based Province Commission of Ministries (PCM), as the “Advisory or Governing Board” of Gujarat province, is a welcome development towards a more participative decision making process.

Fr General wrote a letter for the occasion. He wrote, “You now come together as a Province to reflect on the fruits of this process (SAP), gather them into decisions and establish strategies to implement them.”

The use of Video interviews made it possible to keep the inputs precise and brief. A cross-section of Gujarat Jesuits were interviewed on their assessment of Jesuit Mission in Gujarat today and on their understanding and experience of Evangelization. Evangelization as sharing of the Good News in diverse ways depending on the context seems to be more accepted now, rather than an Evangelization that aims exclusively on establishing a visible Christian community.

Some ‘emerging challenges’ were also presented and discussed – our Ecological Mission, Youth ministry and Vocation promotion. Awareness, concern and action on Ecology seem to be spreading. Guiding and accompanying the Youth are felt essential in all our institutions. Every Jesuit is called to promote Vocations; our survival is at stake.

Two significant sessions – on Collaboration – were indicative of a realization long overdue. Video interviews and a Panel discussion with women and men from different religions, who work with us, and some ex-Jesuits, were very revealing. Most of them appreciated our Mission, and the inspiration behind it. But most felt that they were kept at the margin, and were not involved as ‘insiders’ in our Mission.

The inputs, discussions and sharing were important. But equally important was the meeting and mingling of the Jesuits in Gujarat. With super roads and fast vehicles, the Jesuits in Gujarat nowadays do not visit each other much, except for ‘work’! The oldest Jesuit, Fr Pariza, and youngest Junior were present. The participation in the discussions of the younger Jesuits was less than the older ones. The attendance was somewhat lesser than expected. The Golden and other Jubilees of our men were celebrated. The POSA’s presence all throughout the Sammelan and his special address on the Universal Mission of the Society of Jesus warmed the spirit of the Gujarat Jesuits.

The ‘software’ team that prepared the Sammelan in minute detail, under the leadership of Fr M I Raj with a committed team, did a commendable job. The ‘hardware’ team under the leadership of Fr Mickey did a great job. In the simmering heat of Ahmedabad (42 degrees) everything was done to keep our heads and bodies cool! The food, the staying and resting facilities were well taken care of by Fr M G Raj.

Let us hope that the sharing and inspiration of the Sammelan would let our Gujarat Jesuit province bloom! (Rappai Poothokaren)

To have a glimpse of the Province Sammelan, you could click on the link given below. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Final Vows: - Fr.Lawrence Dharmaraj

Final Vows
On 22 April, Premal Jyoti looked as though it was hosting a mini province gathering on the occasion of the final vows of Frs Ramesh Macwan, Roy Kollamprambil and Peter Kozhikkadan. There were about 200 people comprising of Jesuits and non Jesuits for the occasion. The Holy Eucharist, which was held in the hall below the Chapel, was attended by a good number of Jesuits, well-wishers and near and dear ones. Abp Stanislaus graced the occasion. Fr Changanacherry received their vows and in his homily, he recalled how the first superior General of the Society of Jesus received the first formal vows of his companions in 1541. The backdrop for the occasion was artistically portrayed by Schs Brijesh, Raman and Robert, while the kitchen department was ably handled by Sch Jay Prakash. The Superior, Fr Vinayak and the Minister, Fr Shaji arranged a short felicitation on the lawn of the Premal Jyoti after the Mass.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Jemai Meet - Fr. Lancy D'Cruz

Jemai Meet

Fr Ishwan Gamit, our province coordinator for JEMAI led a 40-member delegation from Gujarat  to the Tribal Festival organized by Jesuit Ministries Among Indigenous People (JEMAI) and held in the picturesque surroundings of TUDI, Waynad in ‘God’s own county’ December 7-9. Gujarat’s contribution to the National level gathering of over 350 adivasis from 14 states was both creative and substantial. While Fr Vinayak and the Aadilok team presented the success story of  ‘Aadilok’ through an interesting movie, Fr Lancy D’Cruz presented the ‘Aadi Aushadhi initiative’ through his presentation on ‘Indigenous people and their medicinal practices’. Both initiatives were highly appreciated and there are plans to take these beyond Gujarat, to the national level. The Gujarat delegation also included Sr Lissy and her group (from Unai) who sold over Rs 10,000 of herbal medicines, along with another Rs 8,000 sold by Aadi Aushadhi.  Needless to say, the dancers from Vyara Mission (Gujarat) performed splendidly!! Congrats to Fr Ishwan and  Vyara  Gamit team for a well prepared and much appreciated performance!!! (Lancy D’Cruz)

Surrendering our liberty - Fr.Hedwig Lewis SJ

Surrendering our liberty

Hedwig Lewis SJ

The Ignatian Suscipe is similar to the Fifth Annotation, which instructs the retreatant to enter the Exercises “with greater magnanimity and liberality, towards his Creator and Lord, offering him all his desire and liberty so that the divine majesty may make use of this person… according to His own most holy will” (SE 5).

What is significant is that we are in full possession of our liberty all through the retreat. God created us with freedom – his greatest gift. Why the Almighty does so remains a profound mystery. But I truly possess MY liberty! I do not suppress but surrender it by the very power given me.

To take away ones liberty is to destroy what is most basic to human nature. Satan tends to do that [SE 23]. Through freedom of choice we fulfil our desires, and have command over all faculties of body, mind and soul. The Exercises enable us to use our freedom in detecting and discarding our “unfreedoms” (attachments), so as to be completely disposed “the better to serve God”.

When we surrender our human liberty, God graces us with: “spiritual freedom” – which empowers us to think and act without external or internal compulsions.

Monday, May 13, 2013

REPEATING THE 1962 HIMALAYAN BLUNDER IN 2013 -Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

Part 11 
Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

The Concepts of Credible Deterrence and MAD

          Once a Holy Man (Sadhu) was approached by his villagers, requesting him to stop a cobra biting them. The cobra lived in the hole of a big, old, banyan tree under and around which the villagers used to move. One evening, this Sadhu confronted the cobra and ordered him not to bite anybody in the village on pain of his powerful curse. This poisonous reptile meekly submitted to the Sadhu’s command. After a week the Holy Man came to the banyan tree. He saw the cobra bleeding, wounded all over by stones thrown by the villagers. Raising its head with much pain and agony the cobra said to the Sadhu: “Maharaj, I obeyed your command. Look at my body. If I had not crept into this hole of the banyan tree I would have been dead already”. The Sadhu granted a new lease of life to the cobra and said: “My order was only not to bite and kill the people. I did not tell you not to warn the villagers by hissing and spreading your hood menacingly. Hereafter do so and no one will harm you.”

          This parable illustrates well the meaning of credible deterrence. By spreading its hood threateningly and hissing loudly the cobra could live safely. India, quite rightly agreed to abstain from the first use of nuclear weapons. But the Indian nuclear arsenals and warheads should be kept ready in the Indian Ocean undetected by hostile powers. We need nuclear submarines with nuclear warheads. With such a credible nuclear deterrent, Pakistan with its congenital hatred for India, and China with all its super power ambitions; will know that any nuclear misadventure on India would be ‘MAD’ ie. Mutually Assured Destruction, as was the case between America and Russia during the cold war. The recent successful launching of Agni-5 missile (April 2012) might make the Dragon think twice before repeating the 1962 adventure of stabbing the back of a friendly neighbour.

          Here another point has to be made. It is part of the question of soft power. The Editor of TOI wrote in his editorial: “Shoring up our Look East policy is a good place to begin. There are several South-East and East Asian nations ranging from Vietnam to Japan that are concerned about China’s territorial ambitions. Partnering with these countries and forming a contact group will help New Delhi obtain fresh insights and inputs on managing its own relations with Beijing. In the same vein, India must seriously consider joining forums and groups such as the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Asean-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This will provide it with different options to deal with China” (TOI, “Chinese Checkers”, April 25, 2013, p.10).

Awake Oh Defense Minister, Awake

Recently Shivaji Sondhi, Jacqueline Deal and Stephen Rosen, three experts published three serial articles in the Indian Express (Ahmedabad) on September 13, 14 and 15 (2012) on the vulnerability of India in relation to China. The facts brought forward by these experts can be enlightening to your ministry, if you are open. In the first part of the series of articles they describe with facts and figures the vulnerability of India vis-à-vis China. In the second article they bring forward some positive factors that favour India vis-à-vis China and in the third article they show how can India respond to China’s might. After substantiating with facts the authors’ picture a few future scenarios. We shall cite just one:

“In considering these potential slippage points, we ask the reader to imagine an environment in which China has unquestioned military dominance over India and a major voice in the international system, especially in economic and financial matters. In other words, to imagine a future in which Chinese power looks like the power the US commands today.

“With that in mind, consider, for one, developments inside Tibet, perhaps following the death of the Dalai Lama, which could lead to decisive Chinese pressure for India to shut down all Tibetan political activity in India and to force the Tibetan government-in-exile into further exile outside India. Tibetan refugees in India would be asked to take Indian citizenship or to leave India, bringing to an end a morally admirable policy that India has stubbornly clung to for over 50 years.

“Second, as in 1962, China might also use unrest in Tibet as a pretext to seek a new border settlement on Chinese terms. This time, China might end up controlling Tawang, which Chinese officials currently refer to as part of ‘South Tibet’ (along with the rest of Arunachal Pradesh). Unlike the 1962 war, a future military clash may not be restricted to land warfare at the border – instead, we may see a more dispersed set of strikes with precision weapons that disable Indian capabilities in one fell swoop as well as cyber attacks. China would also be likely to bring to bear financial pressure, using economic warfare levers acquired through high levels of investment and trade” (Indian Express, “The Northern Neighbour” by Shivaji Sondhi, Jacqueline Deal and Stephen Rosen, September 13, 2012, p.11).

          The Krishnamenonized Defense Ministry may not take seriously such negative things about our “Friendly neighbour China”. The recent intrusions into the Indian Territory by themselves are not capable of awakening the sleeping defense ministry. Unlike Krishnamenon if the Defense Minister and the bureaucrats in the ministry discuss the situation with the defense experts including the heads of the three wings of the Indian Armed Forces, some sensible solutions may come up.

Shame on the DRDO, Shame

          It is internationally known that India is the largest purchaser of weapons in the whole world. What are the gentleman and ladies of DRDO doing about this shameful reality? How many years ago the order was given to build indigenously a model for Light Fighter Aircraft? After decades a semblance of an aircraft with foreign engines was experimented recently in Bangalore. Is it a credit to you? There were orders years ago for building with foreign collaboration in India, submarines, aircraft carriers, etc. Where are they? Where is the Russian made aircraft carrier supposed to be delivered to India more than a decade back? During the 1962 Chinese attack when the promised Russian MIGs were not reaching India, Raja Gopalachari asked the PM whether Russian MIGs were carried to India by bullock-carts. What about the Indian made Arjuna Tanks? Are you designing some decent guns instead of the scam-filled Bofors? The Indian soldiers are complaining that they do not have decent rifles. Have you thought about it? After the Pearl Harbour attack do you know within one year how many ships and submarines were made by the American people guided by American DRDO-like institutions? During the incessant attack on London by Germany, how many German bombers were shot down, how many British plains were destroyed and how much time it took to substitute them with their improved versions?

Hard Power and Soft Power

          If we are weak in ‘hard power’ we should at least be strong in ‘soft power’. China has problems with practically all her neighbours including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. The Americans and the Australians are eager to build up a strong alliance with India’s cooperation. The Krishnamenonized Defense Ministry may prefer to bow before the Chinese rather than joining hands with these South-East Asian powers. Remember in 1962 when the much hated and maligned Americans and the British came forward to India’s defense, the Chinese, anticipating serious trouble withdrew its armies. Among our neighbouring countries is there anyone whom we can call “All-weather Friend”?

          An effective defense system needs vision enhanced by the wisdom of experts. It needs patriotism and a sense of urgency. Many of the Chinese and our weapon-systems are just the improved versions of the Russian system. Is it strategically right to depend so much on the Russians? Besides much of the military corruption is in the purchase of weapons. When will India have the three wings of the military capable of standing on its feet and face the enemies? Will the DRDO shake of its drowsiness and get up with courage and patriotism? Let us hope and pray that the three wings of Indian Armed Forces may stand on their feet in the near future with ‘hard-power’ and ‘soft-power’. Please, please, save our Mother Land from the ignominy of 1962. 

For Contacts:

Sunday, May 12, 2013


 Part 1
Dr. Ishanand Vempeny

          The recent Chinese invasions (not just excursions or incursions) reminded me of a cartoon I had seen in 1962, just before the India-China war. The Personae in the cartoon were Jawaharlal Nehru and Chairman Mao. Mao, sitting in the Indian Territory, goes on planting tiny Chinese flags, as a farmer planting seedlings. Nehru, standing behind the Chairman, proposes gently, “Comrade Mao, let us have a friendly chat and settle our land problems amicably”. Chairman Mao, without bothering about this request for talks, goes on planting the Chinese flags. Jawaharlal, as our first Gentleman Prime Minister with humanistic rationalism and anti-western nationalism, could not understand such hostile gestures from a “friendly Asian nation” of “Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai” reputation. But Mao taught that “Power comes through the barrel of a gun”. One might say that this language is the common factor between the Maoist China of 1962 and the capitalist China of today. Its usual articulation is “Might is Right” which is known among the civilized nations as the “Law of the Jungle”.

          Newspapers have been reporting about the setting up of camps in the Indian Territory by the Chinese from the middle of April (2013). Our PM said that it was a “local affair”. When the number of Chinese tents in different localities in the Indian Territory may reach three or four, I wonder what the PM might say. Had they set up a tent in Delhi he could very well have said that it is a significant local problem. Suppose that a dentist told a patient with an intensely aching tooth: “Don’t worry, it is a local pain. The rest of your teeth are quite good”. No less foolish was the metaphor used by the foreign minister saying that it is ‘acne’ in the glorious and happy face of Indo-Chinese friendship. Rajput Purohit wrote on May 2 (2013): “The ‘acne’ could well turn into a deep scar on India’s face with the Chinese reinforcing their position across the Line of Actual Control and raising the real prospect of India losing access to 750 sq km. in the strategically crucial northern Ladakh” (Times of India, “750 sq km at stake, India gets tough with China”, May 2, 2013, p.1).

Expressing her shock at such reactions by the representatives of the Indian government Tavleen Singh in her usual Sunday column in the Indian Express wrote: “Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh rarely deign to explain their policies to the Indian public and always vanish in times of crisis. They leave it to their ministers to speak for them and when these gentlemen speak, they confirm the growing impression that the destiny of India is in the hands of jokers” (Italics ours) (“Jokers in Charge”, April 28, 2013). The Honourable Foreign Minister’s statement soon after his return from China, that he would like to have his residence in China, makes one agree with Nihal Singh’s calling the central ministers “jokers”. The Chinese hospitality to our Foreign Minister was like stretching the hand out for a shake-hand to a person soon after stabbing him at the back. Fortunately the defense minister was not as gullible as the foreign minister with regard to the Chinese hospitality. When will the Krishnamenonized Indian Politicians learn something about the subtlety of Chinese diplomacy?  

          It took the government quite a few days to admit that the Chinese are in the Indian Territory. “The government on Friday (April 26, 2013) for the first time officially admitted that People’s Liberation Army troops had intruded as far as 19km inside Indian Territory to pitch their tents there. The admission came even as the Centre kept a third flag meeting between local commanders in eastern Ladakh ‘on hold’ to give China ‘time and space’ to withdraw its soldiers on its own” (The Times of India, “Chinese troops 19km into India”, April 27, 2013, p.10).

A Glance back to 1962

          By the defeat of 1962 what happened to India? We lost thousands of square kilometers of land to the Chinese, and in a sense, also the life of our first PM (Indian Express, Inder Malhotra, “Busy till the end”, April 30, 2012, p.11). But the greater loss is our loss of face internationally. However the greatest loss of all is the legacy of defeatism handed down to the ‘Indian Psyche’ as a whole and to every Indian citizen in particular. This is very obvious even when Indians face the Chinese in sports events. Because of this defeat the Indian government representatives are willing to crawl when the Chinese ask them to bow. Do the UPA governments know the cost of another defeat at the hands of Chinese?

In this context of Chinese intrusions in April (2013) into the Indian Territory, what will our present army General Bikram Singh say? This is what he said last year (2012) about the readiness of the Indian Army: I am assuring the nation as the Army chief that 1962 will not be repeated. No way. We have plans in place on all borders to safeguard our country’s territorial integrity” (Times of India, “No 1962 repeat: Army chief”, Rajat Pandit, September 20, 2012, p.10).

Is India prepared to defend herself?

            When somebody talks about the unpreparedness of the Indian Armed Forces to face the Chinese, Admiral Suresh Mehta the then Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee and Navy Chief said: “In military terms, both conventional and non-conventional, we neither have the capability nor the intention to match China, force for force. These are indeed sobering thoughts and therefore need our strategy to deal with these realities” (Cfr. Indian Express, Ahmedabad, Aug. 11, 2009, pp.1 & 2). The public confession three or four years ago (Oct. 2009) of Chief Air Marshal that the Indian Air Force is just one third of the Chinese one (Times of India, Oct. 9, 2009, p.12).

          In the second editorial of the TOI (“India and China: softly, softly” April 27, 2013, p.12), Kanti Bajpai wrote:

“The fact is that China’s economy is four times India’s size. This is a measure of the difference between the two countries. It suggests that China has a much greater capacity to prosecute any conflict anywhere with India. Militarily it has more nuclear weapons by a factor of three, at the very least. In terms of conventional weapons, there is glaring mismatch as well. China has about two times as many active military personnel as India. Its army has the advantage of the heights and infrastructure along our northern border. …A fight with China would be disastrous”.

The Vietnamese Example

            The Chinese proclivity of “Teaching Lessons” has a long history. Decades back when Vajpayee, the then foreign minister of India visited China, the Chinese army had moved towards Vietnam “to teach Vietnam a lesson”. What was the reaction of the leaders of that small country? The Vietnamese Defense Minister, General V. N. Giap really taught the Chinese a lesson. Indeed, it was he who taught also the American Super-Power some lessons, when their identity and freedom were threatened. Mr. Defense Minister, it is not enough to consult only your ministry’s Krishnamenonized bureaucrats. Consult military experts (Mrs. Sonia Gandhi is no military expert) especially your Generals and also some history books which describe how small nations like Greece defeated the attacking Persian Emperor.