When the mother earth goes a full round of the sun god, then one year is completed and a new year is born. I feel that as my age increases the mother earth is going ever-greater speed around the sun god! Perhaps the circular route of mother earth has become a little short! On the New Year day last year at wee hours I got out of my house, as my daily routine is,to go for a brisk walk for fourty-five minutes. I said then “Happy New Year” to the flowers in the home garden just in front of my front door. I felt that the flowers then smiled at me and the flower plants greeted me warmly with “Happy New Year” by shaking themselves a bit in the breeze.

But actually even before I said “Happy New Year” the branches and leaves of the trees on the edge of the home garden greeted me with “Happy New Year” dancing themselves in a soft wind! Not only that but seeing me out so early in the open on the New Year day the birds which spend the night on the branches of the trees said to me “Good Morning” amidst chirping their morning prayer hymns!

With the greetings and the experiences of love between the environment and me, my whole last year went very well. I was able to write beautiful essays on birds, on environment, and the trees and plants in the botanical garden near my house. But in this coming first day of the New Year I have a special plan for the whole year. So this year on the first day, in stead of getting out of the front door as my routine is, I will get out of the house by the back door. In my neighbourhood an old uncle daily gets out of his house and does physical exercises very early in the morning on his court yard. By getting out of my backdoor I want to begin the coming New Year with the ‘darshan ́ of the old uncle.

Beginning with the old uncle in this New Year I want to give more importance to people in my thoughts and actions. As I see today the whole world wants two things: peace and happiness. They are possible, I believe, only by giving importance to people and respecting them.During this New Year keeping people at the centre of my daily living I want to work and get peace and enjoy happiness. Yet we know and experience that we live in an atmosphere which lacks peace. Instead of peace and happinesswe are surrounded by clannish, communal,irreligious, violent and terror-stricken atmosphere of evil and even pogrom. So in us or in oursurroundings there are no peace and happiness.

But without being disappointed or overcome by this sad situation we shall take specific steps to establish peace and enjoy happiness. Certainly it is very difficult to get pace and enjoy happiness in our concrete situation, but it is not impossible.We know that there is no peace in our surroundings but the darkness of strife and violence. In this situation as an English saying goes, there is a choice between two things: either curse the darkness or light a lamp. It is better to
light a candle in stead of cursing the darkness.

In this context a poem on Candle by a well known Gujarati poet, Mr. Yoseph Macwan is worth recalling. I shall give he
re a free rendering of the poem:“Among the crowds of people,Who sell their souls I have kept My candle lighted I have not allowed it To be blown out In the crowds I go ever forward With the belief That someone Will light his/her candle.”
In this difficult situation of restlessness how can we light a candle of peace? Here I remember one thing said by the well-known film actor and social worker Mr. Ragul Bose. He told a beautiful thing while speaking on “Youth and Freedom of
Expression” in his Lajja Memorial Lecture on Spetemer 22, 2006 in the auditorium of H K College, Ahmedabad.

Mr. Bose said that we do not have freedom of expression at all. In democracy the politicians and other similar forces are always trying to curtail our freedom of expression and draw us in the ways they are able to make profit and serve their own self-serving purposes. The forces such as religion, culture and traditional believes rob us of our freedom of expression. Terrorism,communalism, natural and human-made tragedies put us often in dire situations. They take away our freedom of expression.

In this disturbed peace-less situation what can we do? Here I like the suggestion made by Mr.Bose to the youth. He said that you can take concrete steps to solve the situations which are very bad. If you really wish to do something, please make 3 phone calls. Through one or more phone calls you will find people like NGOs who are determined to face the situation and establish peace among people. You become active in collaboration with similar individuals and NGO institutions.

The New Year offers us a wonderful opportunity for introspection. We can examine ourselves and about people around us. We can
discuss in our friends’ circle a bout things we do not like or about anything in the world. If we take Ragul Bose’s suggestion about the evil things around us,then we can take concrete steps. I have heard that there are the most number of NGOs active in Gujarat in comparison with the rest of India.

So there are wonderful opportunities to young people to do something concrete about the things they feel bad about.Here I will give you a concrete example. Fr. P.D. Mathew is a Supreme Court lawyer. He was in-charge of the legal section of Indian Social Institute (ISI),a very famous NGO known in India.