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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Mumbai: St Xavier principal gets BJP ire for election advice to students

Apoorva Puranik, Hindustan Times  Mumbai, April 23, 2014
First Published: 13:24 IST(23/4/2014) | Last Updated: 14:59 IST(23/4/2014)

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday filed a complaint against Father Frazer Mascarenhas, principal of one of the Mumbai’s most prestigious educational institutes, St Xavier’s College, according to TV reports.

Mascarenhas has criticised the ‘Gujarat Model of Development’ in a letter, which was uploaded on the college’s website and emailed to all the students of the college.

Father Frazer Mascarenhas misused his position to influence students, BJP said according to TV reports.

The letter asks students to ‘choose wisely’ in the election, and states that “All the Human Development Index indicators and the cultural polarisation of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience in the last 10 years,” the letter reads.

The letter, sent to around 3,000 students, asked them not to support leaders who pose a threat to the future of secular democracy.

“The prospect of an alliance of corporate capital and communal forces coming to power constitutes a real threat to the future of our secular democracy. Support for people who pledge to work to take Human Development Indicators higher and who commit themselves to a pluralistic culture in diverse India – this is the hope for the future,” the letter adds.

Mascarenhas also adds, “Those schools for an ordinary populace show abject neglect with a very high dropout rate in Gujarat in the last 10 years.” The letter acknowledges the Congress’s Food Security and Rojgar Yojana schemes.

“As opposed to this, efforts such as the Rojgar Yojana and the Food Security Act have been called “election sops”. However, some of our best social scientists like Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze have supported these as necessary in the emergency economic situation the country and the world is facing”

When asked why he chose to send out this letter, Mascerhanes said, “At a time when the Gujarat Model is being discussed fervently in the media and public domain, I have given my students a few considerations based on that. I have not mentioned any political party in the letter. I want my students to make an informed decision on April 24,” said the principal. Parents and academicians have expressed shock over the act of a principal using his reach to influence students. “As an educationist, we must not let our personal political views influence students’ electoral choices,” said the principal of a city college.


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