India: The mustard seed of peace

?Peace is like a planted seed,? affirms Cedric Prakash SJ. ?One day it will give fruit.? Words of hope in the aftermath of violence and religious riots that tore apart the State of Gujarat a year ago, leaving many thousands dead. Head of the St. Xavier Social Service Society in Ahmedabad for the last 14 years, Fr. Prakash is spokesman for the Gujarat United Christian Forum for Human Rights and Director of the Prashant Center, set up by the Jesuits to promote peace and justice. Known in the city for his courageous interventions, he sought to mediate peacefully in volatile situations flaring up between the various religious communities. A commission investigating the incidents of violence last year verified that the cause of the uprisings was extremist Hindu propaganda, spread by the local government, which was re-elected last December (HL21203). This was a disheartening election result, thwarting, as it does, the work of social reconciliation undertaken by the Jesuits. Fr. Prakash is realistic. ?Certainly, the work done these many years seems to have finished in the gutter,? he says. But he refuses to give up hope: ?Like many of my other colleagues, I remain, nevertheless, optimistic.? [HL30406]