A letter to Father Frazer Mascarenhas SJ

Endorsed by academics, activists and educationists across India.

Dear Father,
In these troubling times, when the mightiest are being bought over, lured, seduced, or silenced, we salute you for your courage and moral clarity in asking your students to choose wisely. By drawing the attention of your students (who would have voted for the first time) to the seamy underbelly of a ‘model’ that is being promoted unabashedly by the corporate media as the panacea of all that which ails India, we believe you acted responsibly and ethically. The purpose of education is to inculcate critical thinking, to provide
tools of analysis, and to make students sensitive to social realities – no matter how unpleasant they may be. Far from abusing your position, as the BJP is alleging, we think that your advice is the appropriate way for a teacher, and head of an academic institution, to act.

There is reason, the BJP and its allies, ought to know, why educational institutions, despite being funded fully or partially by the government, are autonomous. This autonomy protects the right of the academic to critique the government, leaders and policies without fear. By rushing to the EC, the BJP has made a frontal attack on this intellectual freedom which is constitutionally guaranteed. Besides, this is very obviously a legally dishonest move: the code of conduct applies only to political parties and not to private individuals or social groups. Surely a party which is pretending to have already formed the government should know this simple rule.

We are amused to read in the papers that local BJP leaders have said that “we are ready to engage with the students in an open debate. But the Principal should have withheld his views till such debate.” This
comes only a day after BJP cadres assaulted political opponents on a live TV broadcast from Benaras.  So much for open debate!

Your letter has prompted many mainstream media houses to question the propriety of a college principal in writing a letter to students on the eve of polling. We also believe that institutional spaces, while retaining the right to be fiercely critical, should remain non-partisan. Those who are quick to condemn and pillory you however conveniently ignore that you only presented a critique – that
incidentally many democratic minded citizens share – without recommending any political party.

Moreover, no questions have been raised about the way in which educational institutions have been used systematically over the last year or so, to build the Supreme Leader’s image among the youth. All TV channels broadcast Modi’s Sri Ram Memorial Oration at Sri Ram College of Commerce (DU) live last year; newspapers carried full-page ads of the SRM University’s convocation ceremony where Modi was the
chief guest. Similarly, no channel is aghast at Modi’s plans to take chopper tours of BHU and Kashi Vidyapeeth.  This hypocrisy is nauseating.

In an election marked by hyperbole, arrogance, threats and insinuations, your letter, written with remarkable restraint and sagacity will remain an important intervention. NOMOre stands with you
wholeheartedly and extends to you our sincerest solidarity.

Issued by NOMOre Campaign, a non-funded, non-party affiliated secular platform. We do not endorse any political party.
April 25, 2014

Signed:

Abha Bhaiya, activist, Himachal Pradesh

Aditya Mukherjee, Professor of Contemporary History, Centre for
Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Aditya Nigam, CSDS, Delhi

Ahmed Sohaib, academic, Delhi

Alia Sinha, MA student, School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata
Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Allan Collaco

Amarjit Singh, Mumbai

Amita Kanekar, Independent scholar, Panjim, Goa.

Anchita Ghatak, development professional, Kolkata

Anita Cherian

Anjali Kanitkar

Anjali Monteiro, Ph.D., Professor & Dean, School of Media and Cultural
Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Ankita Pandey, Assistant Professor, Indraprastha College for Women,
Delhi University, Delhi

Annie Koshi

Anomita Sen, Delhi

Ansari Najmus Saher

Anu Kumar, writer, Maryland, USA

Professor Archana Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi

Anusha Rizvi, filmmaker, Delhi

Arvind Krishnaswamy

Arzanne De Vitre, Teacher and Xavier Alumni, Bombay / Norway

Ashwini Deshpande, Delhi University, New Delhi

Asha Mishra, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti

Asit, social activist, Delhi

Atul Sood, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Brinda Bose, Delhi University, New Delhi.

Battini Rao, Convener, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)

Benny Kuruvilla, Researcher, Delhi and Xaviers Alumni Class of 1997

Bina Sarkar Ellias

Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Brinda Bose, Delhi University, New Delhi

Brinelle D’souza, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai

Charu Gargi, Tallinn, Estonia

Chayanika Shah, member, university women development cell, university of mumbai

Chrissie D Costa, former student and staff of SXC, UK

Sr. Claudette, Miranda DSP

Fr. Cleophas Braganza, sdb, DBYS, Mumbai

Coral D’Sylva, Alumni, St Xaviers College

CP Chandrasekhar, Professor of Economics, JNU

Daniel Mazgaonkar

Dinesh Abrol

Disha Mullick, Delhi

Durgesh, Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of
Social Sciences

Dyuti, New Delhi

Farida Lamba, advocate, Mumbai

Farrukh Waris

Firoz S Khimani

Felicia Pledger-Cardoz, alumnus, St. Xavier’s college, Bombay

Dr. Fleur D’Souza, Thane

Gabriele Dietrich

Gauri Nori, Alumna, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai

Geeta Balakrishnan

Geeta Kapur, independent art critic, New Delhi

Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai

George Jose, Kings College, London

Glen D’Costa, Mumbai

Glenn Fawcett, Executive Director Operations, Lotus Outreach International,.

Godfrey Dsouza

Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari, Delhi

Hazel D’Lima

Helen Saldanha

Himali Kapil, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA

Hussain Indorewala, Mumbai

Indira Chandrasekhar, New Delhi

Indu Rajesh, Xavier Alumni and banker, Sydney

Janaki Nair,Professor,Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Janaki Srinivasan, Assistant Professor, Panjab University, Chandigarh

Janice Lazarus, TISS, Hyderabad

Jasdeep Singh, Software Engineer, Translator, Chandigarh

Jason Keith Fernandes, Independent Scholar, Taleigão Goa

Jaya Sharma, New Delhi

Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University

Jyoti Dogra

K. Ramnarayan, Munsiari, Uttarakhand

K.P. Jayasankar, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Centre for Critical Media
Praxis, School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social
Sciences

Kabi Sherman, Bombay

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, advocate, Mumbai

Karuna D’Souza, Delhi

Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA Secretary

Ketaki Chowkhani, TISS, Mumbai

Ketaki Rege, Lawyer, Mumbai

Kriti Budhiraja, JNU

Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and Anti Poverty Activist

Kislay, Student, Film and Television Institute of India, Pune

Labia Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai

Lara Jesani

Larissa Pitter

Lavanya Ramakrishnan, Software Engineer, US

Lesley A. Esteves, queer rights activist, New Delhi

Lorraine D’Souza, Mumbai

Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM Delhi

Mamatha Karollil, Ambedkar University, Delhi(AUD)

Mario da Penha, St. Xavier’s Alumnus & Historian, Mumbai

Mahmood Farooqui, writer and theatre artist, Delhi

Maharukh Adenwalla, Advocate, Mumbai

Manisha Sethi, Academic, Delhi

Mansi Sharma, activist, Delhi

Marcia D Cunha

Mary E. John, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS).

Mary Kochuveettil, St Mary and Community

Maya Krishna Rao

Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli

Mercy Minj

Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, Professor of Modern Indian History, Centre
for Historical Studies and Dean, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal
Nehru University

Nadia Dsouza, Mumbai

Nandini Rao, Delhi,

Navjot Altaf, artist, Mumbai

Neha Lamech, Student, London school of hygiene and tropical Medicine, Chennai.

Nikhil Titus, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Xaviers alumni, 2007

Nishant Shah, Professor, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany

Niti Saxena, Lucknow

Nivedita Menon, JNU, Delhi

Noella de Souza, Avehi-Abacus Project, Mumbai

Noor, Xavier Alumni, New Delhi

Noor Enayat, Brand Consultant, New Delhi

Proshant Chakraborty, Alumni, St Xavier’s, 2013

Prabha Saha, Alumni, media professional, Class of ’92

Prabhat Patnaik, JNU, Delhi

Sr. Pratiksha Rathod F.C.St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Mumbai

Proshant Chakraborty, Xavier Alumni, 2013, Bombay

Purva Dewoolkar

Purwa Bharadwaj, Writer/Researcher, Delhi

Putul Sathe

Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum

Rama Shyam, Governing Board member, SAHER

Rakhi Sehgal

Ratna, lawyer, New Delhi

Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist, Delhi

Rochelle Pinto

Rohan Dsouza, Mumbai

Rohini Hensman, independent scholar and writer, Bombay

Dr R.S.Dahiya, HGVS Haryana

Rupal Oza

Sadia Zafar, University of Oxford, Oxford

Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi

Sameera Khan, independent journalist and researcher, Mumbai

Sangeeta Banerji, Tata institute of Social Sciences

Saumyajit Bhattacharya, Delhi UNiversity.

Shabani Hassanwalia, filmmaker, New Delhi

Shalini Mahajan, Mumbai

Shalini Nirmal, Ghaziabad

Shalini Sharma, Guwahati

Shazia Nigar, Journalist, Bhubaneswar

Sheba Chacchi, independent artist and activist, New Delhi

Shilpa Phadke, Assistant Professor, School of Media and Cultural
Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Xavier alumni

Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, New Delhi

Shiraz Bulsara Prabhu, Activist Kashtakari Sanghatana, Thane District

Shoba V Ghosh, University of Mumbai

Shubhabrata Bhattacharya

Shruti Upadhyay

Shruti Mukherjee, TARSHI

Shyama Narang, Medical Doctor, Bangalore

Simantini Dhuru, documentary filmmaker, education activist

Simpreet Singh

Stephanie D’sa, Content writer and Xavier Alumni, Mumbai

Sudheer Rikhari

Sujatha Subramanian

Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai

Suma Josson

Sumi Krishna, independent scholar and writer, Bangalore

Suroor, advocate and child rights activist

Tanima, activist, Mumbai

Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad

Tavpritesh Sethi, Scientist, Delhi

Teena Gill

Tejaswini Pendse, Xavier Alumni, Mumbai

Tejaswini Niranjana, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore

Tushar Joag, Associate Professor, School of Art, Design and Performing
Arts, Shiv Nadar University

Ujjwala Mhatre

Uma Chakravarti, feminist historian, New Delhi

Uma.V.Chandru

Umang Bhattacharya, filmmaker and photographer, New Delhi

Urmimala Sarkar, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics,
Jawaharlal Nehru University

Vahida Nainar, Women’s Rights, Human Rights Law Researcher

Vaibhav Parel, Delhi University

Varsha Mehta

Vani Subramanian

Veena Poonacha

Vijay Hiremath

Vineeta Bal, Scientist, New Delhi.

Vinita Bhatia, Associate Professor, St Xaviers College, Mumbai

Vinita Sahasranaman, Gurgaon

Virginia Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement, Mumbai

Vivan Sundaram, Independent artist, Delhi

17 thoughts on “A letter to Father Frazer Mascarenhas SJ”

  1. Fr Fraser’s response :
    Thank you very much for the support. I am glad that my attempt to generate some critical thinking among our students in the context of the elections has reached a wider audience. I trust that much good will come out of all this. Am very privileged to receive your well enunciated letter, signed by many who I myself admire and am inspired by. Pledging solidarity in the struggle for good governance and true development.

    Frazer Mascarenhas S.J.

    1. Please accept my endorsement too- I could not manage to send it to the e-mail id because of problems with connectivity.
      JayasreeSubramanian, TISS Hyderabad

  2. And some other endorsements sent, they are still pouring in :
    Rama Srinivasan
    Wendell Rodricks
    Hartman de Souza
    Pritpal Randhawa
    Manasi Pingle
    Amrita Gupta-Singh, Mumbai
    Dr.(Mrs) Farrukh Waris, Principal, Burhani College, Mumbai
    Sharmila Samant
    Neha Naqvi, activist for gender justice and human rights, New Delhi
    Ayesha Mualla, St Xavier’s alumnus
    Neelam Man Singh
    Vandana Gupta
    Venita Fernandes, Women’s Commission, Mumbai
    Jennifer Miranda
    Parnika goel
    Haroon Iqbal
    Nisar Ahmad Khan
    John Dayal
    Ritoo M Jerath
    Being Sarwar

  3. The malicious intentions to ambush Fr.Frazer’s line of logical reasoning from becoming an effective belief with the young voters is an attack on the entire Academea to scare them into silence.It has happened before with Rohinton Mistry,Bhandarkar institute and several other instances but unfortunately we did not come out in open protest of the bans though we were unhappy with it. ‘ We the people’ should not only show one time solidarity with this incident but take FRAZERIAN model and oppose injustice of any type,against anybody since we have the power of the pen.
    Dr(mrs) Farrukh Waris
    Principal Burhani College
    Mumbai

  4. Fully support this endorsement and will give widest possible publicity to it at my level.

  5. I fully endorse the views of the Principal as well as the views expressed by the academics through this open letter.

  6. Absolutely agree with this letter!!! It is the duty of the teacher to guide his/her students. This is expected of a guru and Father did exactly that!

  7. Thanks to Fr Fraser’s timely appeal we are much better off in having a much publicised debate. Kudos to the courageous stand!!!
    Fatima de Corla Souza

  8. I fully endorse Fr. Frazer’s views laying out clearly the issues involved without endorsing or criticizing any party. He merely concludes “vote wisely”.

    .

  9. Reading such articles gives me faith in the intelligence of our people.

    Sometimes it just seems that our country is full of morons who are totally illogical and unreasonable. An illiterate crowd hyper excited by mass hysteria.

    What Father wrote made a lot of sense. And I want more people to use their own brains and analyse the ground realities without going chaotic and believing whatever they get to hear from others.

    Intelligence and Knowledge is the solution to all the problems our country faces.

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