I studied at a Society of Jesus (SJ) institution. Like anyone who studied at any of these great institutions, I was blessed to receive the best liberal education anybody could get. My principals and teachers taught us how to think, not what to think. Sadly, Rev. Dr. Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, SJ, you, as the Principal of St. Xavier's College, Mumbai, seem to have done quite the opposite by sending your politically loaded e-mail to the students of your college. Why this crass attempt to indoctrinate impressionable first-time voters? My SJ-inculcated value-system and thinking worldview lead me to question the propriety of this.
That St. Xavier's has been conducting regular discussions about different political models existing in our country and their pros and cons, thereby exposing the students to different perspectives, is fantastic. These are the things that make SJ institutions special! But if everything had indeed already been discussed threadbare, why the overwhelming need for you, Father, to write this e-mail? And that too from the official ID of the college on the eve of an election? Couldn't this advice have been given within the four walls of a classroom as part of an academic exercise, precluding the opening of a veritable Pandora's Box?
Yet, when you so strongly push for the UPA model in your letter, saying that the Gujarat model subjugates Muslims and tribals, is communal, corrupt, false, faulty and so on with the rest of that state's jeremiad, there’s no problem whatsoever. Objectivity demands, however, that you also point out the UPA’s undermining of the Indian Constitution and demeaning of the post of the PM by creating an alternate decision-making centre, its slavish dynastic mindset, its malfeasance in governance, its many humongous scams, its last-minute adoption of harmful GMOs that will take away India’s seed sovereignty and kill its incredible diversity, its ramming through of risky, un-thought-through, untested Aadhaar with no Parliamentary sanction, its befuddled foreign and economic policies, its perverse retroactive tax which killed foreign investment, its propagation of poverty and beggarly mindset by government largesse, and its manipulation of religious sentiments in the name of secularism, as exemplified by Sonia Gandhi’s appeal to Shahi Imam Bhukhari. I’m sure you cannot have abdicated your solemn responsibility of a balanced, dispassionate outlook in your discussions.
Did you realize, Fr. Frazer, that despite the camaraderie that universally exists within SJ institutions, the atmosphere within St. Xavier's, irrespective of young minds or old, is likely to be estranged, if not vitiated henceforth? St. Xavier's receives Grant-in-Aid assistance from the government of Maharashtra. Surely one of the conditions for that is to maintain an apolitical milieu within the institution? So, Father, by sending your overtly political e-mail to the students of your college, have you not crossed ethical boundaries, if not legal ones?
In the final analysis, in any General Election, it's the will and wisdom of the people of India that must prevail. In our democracy we must trust. While our Constitution, bequeathed to us with the sacrifices and vision of our founding fathers, is this country's foundation, our ancient culture has fostered an intrinsic decency in the vast majority of our citizens, regardless of religious or other affiliations. They will never let down this great nation, and will always be its most doughty champions and defenders.
I wish you and your esteemed institution Godspeed, Reverend Father.
Vinod Kumar B