Mumbai: The principal of Mumbai's St Xavier's College, Father Frazer Mascarenhas has raised a political storm on the campus, by sending an email to students criticising Narendra Modi's 'Gujarat Model' of development.
The message titled, "In the Background of Elections - The Development Debate" goes on to reads, "The Gujarat model has been highlighted for our consideration...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?"
The email then says that Gujarat has been good for big businesses but where quality of life is concerned, the state has not done well.
"All the human development index indicators and the cultural polarization of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience in the last 10 years...Take the example of education: Schools for the ordinary populace show abject neglect with a very high dropout rate in the last 10 years. Higher Education has not been allowed to move forward...Gujarat has also been the worst performer in settling claims and distributing title deeds to tribal people and other forest dwellers, as shown by the latest data put out by the union tribal affairs ministry. Till 2013, the state, with 15 per cent tribal population, settled only 32 per cent of the claims, the lowest rate in the country," says the article.
"As opposed to this," he goes on to say, "efforts like 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."
Mascarenhas's note, which doesn't name any individual or a political party, has also been uploaded on the college website, even as several students criticised the principal on social networking sites, saying the email "smacked of bias" and was "politically motivated".
@jay_mody tweeted, "Its amazing how school principals are allowed to be a political mouthpiece and get away with it! Complete misuse of his position" #XAVIERS.
The email praised several initiatives of the Manmohan Singh government, saying: "Efforts such as the Rojgar Yojana and the Food Security Act have been called 'election sops'. However, some of our best social scientists, such as Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze, have supported these schemes as necessary."
Defending himself, Mascharenas told Mumbai Mirror, "I have laid out certain criteria such as human development indicators, corruption, inclusive development and the environment for students to think about and make a choice. As an educational administrator, I only urge students to vote and make an informed choice."