Endorsed by academics, activists and educationists across India.
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. Continue reading A letter to Father Frazer Mascarenhas SJ
On April 21st, 2014, Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas, S.J., Principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, posted a letter on the college’s official website. In it, Fr. Mascarenhas, who also teaches a course in Anthropology of Development, dissected the “Gujarat model of development”. He warned against the dangers posed by an “alliance of corporate capital and communal forces coming to power”, and stressing the importance of a strong welfare state, ended by informing students to “choose well.”
The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) has lodged a complaint with the Election Commission, claiming this was “an attempt to influence the minds of students”, and that it “violated the Model Code of Conduct.” A simultaneous campaign on electronic and social media alleged Fr. Mascarenhas had overstepped his authority. Unfortunately, all this is being said on behalf of students of St Xavier’s, without considering their views on the same.
While we as alumni and students might not agree unanimously with Fr. Mascarenhas’ statement, or the method he chose to disseminate it, we strongly oppose the biased media reports and falsehoods propagated on social media, which are twisting this case beyond merit. Thus, we, students and alumni of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, wish to strongly bring home a few points: Continue reading Speak to us, not for us: students respond to media coverage of the St Xavier’s letter
This is the post by FRAZER MASCARENHAS, SJ that came under attack from the Moditva Brigade, aided ably by the ‘propaganda machine’ that the media has become, and which has since been taken down from the St Xavier’s College website. We have Fr Mascarenhas’ permission to reproduce it here. As any committed teacher would certify, it is our privilege and responsibility to place before our students a range of views, including our own, provided we make clear what our own views are, and do not cloak these as truth or the only valid view. I believe in this piece Fr Mascarenhas has adhered to this ethical principle.
It is also not a coincidence that the Moditva Brigade frontally attacks particularly people from minority communities when they express their views fearlessly, whether it be Shazia Ilmi labelled as communal for asking Muslims to vote for their “own” – Arvind Kejriwal, mind you, not a Muslim, thus redefining the very idea of community as has been pointed out here – or Fr Mascarenhas placing his views before his students.
Of course, the fear of the Modi Masks is that “minorities” are communities that are “led” by their own.
The truth that they dare not confront is that Fr Mascarenhas and Shazia Ilmi belong to another community altogether – our community of Indians who believe in a strongly democratic society, a society that secures to its citizens justice, equality and dignity. As the two statements endorsing Fr Mascarenhas (that will shortly go up here on Kafila) show – one from the St Xavier’s academic community and the other from a wider set of people – “We the People” will never ever fit neatly into the hateful divisions the Hindutvavaadis try so hard – and keep failing – to propagate.
The approaching elections have brought an interesting discussion to the public forum on what constitutes human development and how it is to be achieved. The Gujarat model has been highlighted for our consideration. That is very apt because it puts in stark contrast two current views. Is the growth of big business, the making of huge profits, the achievement of high production – what we seek? Or is it the quality of life for the majority in terms of affordable basic goods and services and the freedom to take forward the cultural aspirations of our plural social groups that make up India? Continue reading In the Background of Elections – The Development Debate: Frazer Mascarenhas