Manu, as he was popularly known, was always very studious, intelligent, analytical and critical. Almost immediately after he was ordained a priest in 1979, he was assigned to AICUF where he served for 17 years in various capacities. All along, he kept the social justice thrust as the core and impressed everyone with his secular-social spirituality.
In 1995, he and a group of his young, socially committed friends started the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (CBGA) that continues to be the premier civil society think-tank in the country. At the State level, too, he became one of the co-founders and co-conveners of the Tamil Nadu Peoples’ Forum for Social Development that initiated and linked budget critiques and budget advocacy to safeguard the economic, social and cultural rights of the marginalized. He was also the Founder-Director of Social Watch–Tamil Nadu and, later, its mentor and guide. From 2007 onwards he served as founder-core group member of the National Equity Watch, New Delhi. He had a stint as Asia–Pacific Advisor to the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS – Hong Kong) and Asia–Pacific Advisor-cum-Chaplain of Catholic professionals belonging to the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA – Geneva). From 1990 to 2010, he was visiting professor, Post Graduate Programme on Inter-Cultural Management, (CIMIC – a unit of Leuven University, Mechelen, Belgium). His latest initiatives were Loyola Institute of Social Research (LISoR) and Tech Loyola – an Organic Bio-farm at Loyola, Vettavalam.
Manu’s heart problems began way back in 2007 and eventually led to his death on 17th November, 2018. Fr. Danis Ponniah, Provincial, was the main celebrant at the final Eucharist at Loyola College Church. Those who spoke had high praises for Manu – for living and struggling for justice and equality, and upholding the Gospel values against all odds.
- John Irudaya Kumar, SJ