Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reply to Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas S.J., Principal, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Letter by Dr.  Frazer Mascarenhas S.J., Principal, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. can be found here

 Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas S.J.



To,
Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas S.J.,
Principal,
St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Sir,
Sub: Reply to your letter to all your alumni and students regarding the 2014 polls.

It is great to know that as per the EC’s request you have tried to motivate the students of your college to vote. But I regret to say that your mail seemed more of a bashing up of a particular political party than a motivational mail.

It really pains me that I have to reply to a highly qualified person like you but regrettably I think you missed out a point or two and exaggerated a point or two. Fortunately or unfortunately the constitution of India also provides me with the same freedom of expression so I am putting up where I defer with you in here. I have no intention to offend the principal of the highly reputed St. Xaviers, Mumbai with an alumnus of India’s most powerful people but it is necessary to clear some points.

You have correctly identified that this election has put up a very interesting discussions on public forum with special consideration of the Gujrat model. I think you have got a wrong impression that the projected Gujrat model has brought Gujrat at top in all aspect among the states of India. Here Sir, I would like to correct you. The projected Gujrat model speaks of its own development compared to what it was 10 years back to now. Although in this endeavor it has created some milestones for other states to see.

You sir have apparently also forgot to mention other models that are being talked about. Bengal model, Tamil Nadu model and Assam model to name a few. Here you may argue that Modi as chief minister of Gujrat is fore runner of the top post. But then sir you should also inform your student of a possible third front.  And also consider these models.

Sir, you talked about high dropout rates in the last 10 years in Gujrat. But you forgot to mention numbers - in 2002-03 Gujrat had a dropout rate of 45.48 but in 2012-13 it fell down to 7.08 (Class I-VII). A drastic improvement I believe. Also you forgot to mention a 10% increase in literacy 3, increase in enrolment ratio 4 and an exponential increase in number of secondary schools 5. Sir you also forgot to mention state programs like Kanya Kelavani, Shala praveshotsav and The chief Ministers Scholarship Program. In the higher education sector in the last 10 years 11 new universities and 400 new colleges have come up5. However sir, you seem to be offended on education in Gujrat because your institute did not get an easy entry into the state. I can’t comment much on it because I don’t have much knowledge about it.

Sir on the issue of tribal claims the Gujarat government had clarified even before the union government report with the statistics you provided was released. They had used four-layered superimposed digitized maps and satellite imagery along with GPS-based personal digital assistant (PDA) maps to settle claims. But unfortunately most claims were found to be false.6

Sir, when you mention Gujrat wouldn’t it be fair to also mention 24 hour electricity, Women Safety, Ambulance services, Water Management, Judicial Courts, no communal violence in 12 years, GDP and many more feathers to their cap.

Sir you seemed to commend the effort for “food security bill” and also evoked social scientists like Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze for it. Sir for your knowledge I would like to point out that Jean Dreze being one of the architect and Dr. Sen being his associate had no chance of opposing the bill. But sir maybe you forgot to mention the downsides of the bill the loss to the government, increase in inflation, shift in focus of agriculture production from actual demand, loss of private investment in agriculture field and most importantly the loss of initiative for an individual to work for excellence. Sir, you should also read Vivek Kaul and S. Bhalla on this issue. Maybe then even you may consider it an “election sop”.

Right to Information which is a modified version of “Freedom of Information Act 2002” has been rightly told by you to have been initiated and sustained by social activists. But naming just two of them will be a highly disregard to the rest.


Again Sir you tell that “A massive investment in health and education is sorely needed in our country of widening disparities and those who support big business and its unethical profits will never agree to such public expenditure for the masses”. Here sir I would like to get your attention to a fine example – Gujarat. I hope you don’t have any doubts about their support to big business houses. In the last budget of Gujarat a sum of Rs. 3850 crore was allocated for education (An increase of Rs. 1150 crore from previous year).7 This very state which already has 25% reservation for Economically Weaker Section in private unaided schools as per RTE has recommended to increase the number of seats nearly four folds (5,300 to 18,300 seats)8. In the health sector Gujarat has increased the fund by 24.18% (Total of Rs. 3800 crore) in this budget session.7

Sir, at the end of your mail you have told that “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”.

Sir, of what little understanding I have, any corporate alliance with any government may it be secular or communal will be detrimental to the nation. Fine examples lies in the numerous scams like 2G, CWG, CoalGate etc. where so called a “secular government” acted for undue profits of corporates.

Apologetically Sir, please also take the pain to clarify if a so called secular party to woo voters of a specific community indulges in appeasement policies do you call it communal? Do you justify such act? If no, then regretfully I found no mention of it in your letter as this is a major issue affecting every Indian.  
Sir when you say to Support people who pledge to commit themselves to a pluralistic culture in diverse India do you think that it can be achieved by creating divisions among Indians. If No then sir why do we have minority institutes which give reservations to minorities? If such institutes admitted only on basis of merit then the institute would be supporting “pluralistic culture in diverse India”. Sir, is this not hypocrisy?

Sir, lastly I would also like to ask you that will you not ask your students to think about Inflation, Taxes, Internal Security, Foreign Policies, Women Safety, and tons of other issues before they go to vote. Is their vote only meant to get pseudo-seculars to power?

I hope Sir that I have not offended you with this letter as you and your students claim that your institute promotes debate and open thinking. And Sir, please if you really want to write a motivational letter for debate please do it with a neutral stand.

Thanking You.

Yours Truly
Dr. Ankit Agarwal.


References
1.       Enrolment and Drop Out Rate in Schools, Press Information Bureau, GoI http://pib.nic.in/newsite/erelease.aspx?relid=35612
2.       Despite high claims, dropout ratio in primary schools of Gujarat 7% , Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Despite-high-claims-dropout-ratio-in-primary-schools-of-Gujarat-7/articleshow/19130590.cms
3.       Gujarat's literacy rate rises by over 10%, Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gujarats-literacy-rate-rises-by-over-10/articleshow/7838368.cms
5.       A sea change in education sector, The Hindu Business Line http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/features/a-sea-change-in-education-sector/article4746924.ece
7.       Government of Gujarat , Highlights of Budget 2013-14 http://financedepartment.gujarat.gov.in/budget13_14_pdf/Highlight_of_the_Budget_English.pdf
8.       Govt increases reserved seats for poor kids in pvt schools, Indian Express http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/ahmedabad/govt-increases-reserved-seats-for-poor-kids-in-pvt-schools/


Note: All views here are personal. If you have any difference then dialogue is the best way. 

Hope Dr. Frazer Mascarenhas S.J. does get to read this.

Letter by Dr.  Frazer Mascarenhas S.J., Principal, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. can be found here

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