My dear friends,

We are happy to make the latest issue of INI, dated Oct-Dec ‘23, available to you on 14 November ‘23 – the day which is celebrated here in India as ‘Children’s Day’. This day in November is the birthday of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who, as the first Prime Minister of India, served the nation in that position for 16 years. If India continues to be a working, vibrant democracy – quite unlike its South Asian neighbours – it is thanks to his mindset and actions. A secular humanist and a social democrat, Nehru was committed to parliamentary democracy and secularism.

He was quite fond of children, who loved to call him “Chacha Nehru” (Uncle Nehru). M.O. Mathai, the talented Malayali, who was Nehru’s Private Secretary, wrote in his book, My Days with Nehru, “Nehru saw in their (children’s) innocent faces and sparkling eyes the future of India. He was convinced that no amount of money spent on children and their mothers was too much, and that it was a sound investment for the future.” In an interview he gave to a journalist in 1958, Nehru said, “I have always felt that the children of today will make the India of tomorrow, and, the way we bring them up will determine the future of the country.”

No wonder Nehru wanted his birthday to be celebrated as ‘Children’s Day’.

While this month calls us to think of children, December leads us to a Child – the God-Child, born in a stable, to a virgin and was announced by a heavenly choir of angels and visited by poor shepherds and persistent wise men from the East. 

This Child grew up and lived in a land that has been turned today into a gory, bloody battlefield by unscrupulous terrorists and an army that knows no restraint. This Child, who is hailed as ‘the Prince of Peace’, would want us to think of the children in Israel as well as the Gaza Strip. Having been subjected to such terrible, traumatic experiences for more than a month now, what will they be when they grow up? May the Children’s Day and Christmas make us keep thinking of and praying for these hapless, helpless, innocent children! 

– M.A. Joe Antony, SJ