Address at the Memorial Service for Late Lt Gen J F R Jacob at the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Mumbai
Address by Shri Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Governor of Maharashtra at the Memorial Service for Late Lt Gen J F R Jacob at the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue at 5.30 PM on Sunday, 21st February 2016
Mr David Akov, Consul General of Israel in Mumbai, Mr Solomon F. Sopher, Chairman and Managing Trustee of the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue and President of the Indian Jewish Congress, Rabbi Ya’aqob Menasseh, religious leaders, members of the Jewish community, distinguished invitees, ladies and gentlemen,
I deem it an honour and privilege to rise and speak at the Memorial Service organized by the Mumbai Jewish community to remember one of the greatest patriots of India, Hero of the 1971 war and former Governor of Goa and Punjab General J F R Jacob, who passed away in Delhi on the 13th of January 2016.
At the outset I thank and appreciate Mr Solomon Sopher and the Jewish Community in Mumbai for organizing the Memorial Service for General Jacob, who was a fiercely nationalist leader and one of the most towering personalities produced by the Jewish Community in India. I am here to state that the entire nation is proud of General J F R Jacob for his selfless and matchless services to the nation.
The life of General Jacob is an inspiring saga of patriotism and service to the nation. General Jacob was the Chief of Staff of the Indian Army’s Eastern Command that defeated the Pakistan Army in East Pakistan during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. He was therefore instrumental in the birth of a nation.
General Jacob was a staunch protagonist of Indo- Israel relations. I am happy that since coming to power in May 2014, Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has provided a new impetus to Indo-Israel relations.
It is nice to see Indo – Israel relations getting even friendlier. Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj had a highly successful visit to Israel. Hon’ble Prime Minister will also be visiting Israel and I understand that there are also top level visits by Israeli Prime Minister and President to India. Strengthening Indo – Israel relations will be a tribute to General Jacob.
I should like to mention here that Maharashtra has special relationship with Israel as Israel has many Marathi speaking Jewish people. I was pleased to note that the University of Mumbai and the Rajya Marathi Vikas Sanstha (RMVS) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Tel Aviv University, Israel, to promote and spread Marathi language. Israel is also having close cooperation with Maharashtra in the field of agriculture research.
Ladies and gentlemen,
General Jacob had a distinguished career as Governor of Goa and Punjab. With his selfless and impartial conduct, he elevated the stature of the office of the Governor. Even after his retirement from public office, he always remained useful to society. General Jacob regularly contributed articles on various issues of national and international interest through the newspaper till his end. Through his writings, he enriched the discourse on development and strategic affairs. I venture to say, General Jacob was truly a Bharat Ratna.
Ladies and gentlemen,
General Jacob remained unmarried. It can be said that he was wedded to the cause of service to the nation. I read General Jacob’s open letter published by a newspaper and which was addressed to Delhi’s citizens.
Addressing Delhites as ‘All my dear sons and daughters’ , General Jacob wrote: ‘While I am proud to be a Jew, I am an Indian through and through. And I ask you to make India your prime identity.’ (unquote)
In the same letter General Jacob expressed concern about the poverty in India and called upon the people to take ‘ownership of the situation’. He also asked people to develop respect for women.
I had read Abraham Lincoln’s letter to the teacher of his son. In my estimation this letter by General Jacob to citizens is the best letter written by any Indian to fellow Indians. The letter is worth inscribing in gold.
I do feel that we must have a chapter on the life and work of Gen Jacob in all school textbooks. His letter should be preserved and included in the book.
Secondly, the Jewish community in Mumbai must create a large Jewish Museum that will showcase the contribution of Jews to India, and provide brief information of prominent Jews to the making of India. Thought should also be given to creating a Jewish circuit in Mumbai for history and heritage lovers.
With these words, I pay my respects to General Jacob and appeal to the Jewish community and to all citizens of India, to perpetuate his memory through service to the nation. I thank all of you for your indulgence.