Rich tributes pouring in from several human rights activists, writers, lawyers and others to Jesuit Father Ambrose Pinto, who died of cancer in Bangalore on January 3, show that he was not just an ordinary priest. The 67-year-old was a brilliant orator, an illustrious educationist, intellectual, writer, social activist, promoter of justice and peace but above all a man of the heart.
Father Pinto, whom I knew well, wore many caps. But he stood apart as a fine human being: kind, forgiving, compassionate and revolutionary in his own right to bring about a little sunshine in the lives of the poorest of the poor and the oppressed Dalits. A noted political scientist, he headed the Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, at the turn of the century, and then was the principal of the St Joseph’s Colleges and St Aloysius College in Bangalore till he was diagnosed with cancer. Earlier, he also had a stint at the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies in Shimla. He helmed the writing of two People’s Manifestos in the past. “I went to see him one last time where we discussed a third Peoples Manifesto if he had the energy. Will miss his wise counsel, his anger at injustice, and his passion,” said John Dayal, a senior journalist and human rights activist.
His research and consultancy experience included Dalit Christians in Karnataka: A Socio-economic Study, Evaluation of Minority Welfare Corporation Funding of the Ministry of Minority Affairs of the Government of India in 2000, and Changing Identity of the Dalits in Karnataka. He was best known for his books Dalit Christians in Karnataka: A Socio-Economic Study, Higher Education, Politics and Ideology, Dalits in Karnataka: In search of identity and equality, Five Years of Saffron Rule in Karnataka, Nuclearization of India: Myths, Beliefs and Facts, Analysis of Parliamentary Elections, Relevance of Communist Manifesto, and Women in Panchayati Raj.
It is not easy to live against the stream. But Father Pinto did exactly that and shone like a star, inspiring a generation to bring a little sunshine in the life of the suffering Dalits, the dispossessed, the disadvantaged and the discarded. As the Little Prince says, “It is only with your heart you can love.” Father Pinto looked at the owrld with the heart.