A letter to Father Frazer Mascarenhas SJ

Endorsed by academics, activists, educationists and others across India

To Father Frazer Mascarenhas SJ
Principal, St. Xavier’s College

Dear Father,

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

There is reason, the BJP and its allies, ought to know, why
educational institutions, despite being funded fully or partially by
the government, are autonomous. This autonomy protects the right of
the academic to critique the government, leaders and policies without
fear. By rushing to the EC, the BJP has made a frontal attack on this
intellectual freedom which is constitutionally guaranteed. Besides,
this is very obviously a legally dishonest move: the code of conduct
applies only to political parties and not to private individuals or
social groups. Surely a party which is pretending to have already
formed the government should know this simple rule.

We are amused to read in the papers that local BJP leaders have said
that “we are ready to engage with the students in an open debate. But
the Principal should have withheld his views till such debate.” This
comes only a day after BJP cadres assaulted political opponents on a
live TV broadcast from Benaras.  So much for open debate!

Your letter has prompted many mainstream media houses to question the
propriety of a college principal in writing a letter to students on
the eve of polling. We also believe that institutional spaces, while
retaining the right to be fiercely critical, should remain
non-partisan. Those who are quick to condemn and pillory you however
conveniently ignore that you only presented a critique – that
incidentally many democratic minded citizens share – without
recommending any political party.

Moreover, no questions have been raised about the way in which
educational institutions have been used systematically over the last
year or so, to build the Supreme Leader’s image among the youth. All
TV channels broadcast Modi’s Sri Ram Memorial Oration at Sri Ram
College of Commerce (DU) live last year; newspapers carried full-page
ads of the SRM University’s convocation ceremony where Modi was the
chief guest. Similarly, no channel is aghast at Modi’s plans to take
chopper tours of BHU and Kashi Vidyapeeth.  This hypocrisy is

In an election marked by hyperbole, arrogance, threats and
insinuations, your letter, written with remarkable restraint and
sagacity will remain an important intervention. NOMOre stands with you
wholeheartedly and extends to you our sincerest solidarity.

Issued by NOMOre Campaign

April 25, 2014

Endorsed by

  1. Abha Bhaiya, activist, Himachal Pradesh
  2. Prof. Aditya Mukherjee, Professor of Contemporary History, Centre for
  3. Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  4. Aditya Nigam, CSDS, Delhi
  5. Ahmed Sohaib, academic, Delhi
  6. Alia Sinha, MA student, School of Media and Cultural Studies,TISS
    1. titute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  7. Allan Collaco
  8. Amarjit Singh, Mumbai
  9. Amita Kanekar, Independent scholar, Panjim, Goa.
  10. Anchita Ghatak, development professional, Kolkata
  11. Anita Cherian
  12. Anjali Kanitkar
  13. Anjali Monteiro, Ph.D., Professor & Dean, School of Media and Cultural
  14. Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences
  15. Ankita Pandey, Assistant Professor, Indraprastha College for Women,
    1. lhi University, Delhi
  16. Annie Koshi
  17. Anomita Sen, Delhi
  18. Ansari Najmus Saher
  19. Anu Kumar, writer, Maryland, USA
  20. Professor Archana Prasad, Jawaharlal Nehru University Delhi
  21. Anusha Rizvi, filmmaker, Delhi
  22. Arvind Krishnaswamy
  23. Arzanne De Vitre, Teacher and Xavier Alumni, Bombay / Norway
  24. Ashwini Deshpande, Delhi University, New Delhi
  25. Asha Mishra, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti
  26. Asit, social activist, Delhi
  27. Atul Sood, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  28. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  29. Brinda Bose, Delhi University, New Delhi.
  30. Battini Rao, Convener, People’s Alliance for Democracy and Secularism (PADS)
  31. Bina Sarkar Ellias
  32. Bindhulakshmi Pattadath, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai
  33. Brinda Bose, Delhi University, New Delhi
  34. Brinelle D’souza
  35. Charu Gargi, Tallinn, Estonia
  36. Chayanika Shah, member, university women development cell, university of mumbai
  37. Chrissie D Costa, former student and staff of SXC, UK
  38. Sr. Claudette, Miranda DSP
  39. Fr. Cleophas Braganza, sdb, DBYS, Mumbai
  40. Coral D’Sylva, Alumni, St Xaviers College
  41. CP Chandrasekhar, Professor of Economics, JNU
  42. Daniel Mazgaonkar
  43. Dinesh Abrol
  44. Disha Mullick, Delhi
  45. Durgesh, Centre for Urban Policy and Governance, Tata Institute of
    1. Social Sciences
  46. Dyuti, New Delhi
  47. Farida Lamba, advocate, Mumbai
  48. Farrukh Waris
  49. Firoz S Khimani
  50. Dr. Fleur D’Souza, Thane
  51. Gabriele Dietrich
  52. Gauri Nori, Alumni, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai
  53. Geeta Balakrishnan
  54. Geeta Kapur, independent art critic, New Delhi
  55. Geeta Seshu, Journalist, Mumbai
  56. George Jose, Kings College, London
  57. Glenn Fawcett, Executive Director Operations, Lotus Outreach International,.
  58. Glen D’Costa, Mumbai
  59. Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari, Delhi
  60. Hazel D’Lima
  61. Helen Saldanha
  62. Himali Kapil, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA
  63. Hussain Indorewala, Mumbai
  64. Indira Chandrasekhar, New Delhi
  65. Indu Rajesh, Xavier Alumni and banker, Sydney
  66. Janaki Nair,Professor,Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  67. Janaki Srinivasan, Professor, Chandigarh University
  68. Janice Lazarus, TISS, Hyderabad
  69. Jasdeep Singh, Software Engineer, Translator, Chandigarh
  70. Jason Keith Fernandes, Independent Scholar, Taleigão Goa
  71. Jaya Sharma, New Delhi
  72. Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University
  73. Jyoti Dogra
  74. K. Ramnarayan, Munsiari, Uttarakhand
  75. K.P. Jayasankar, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Centre for Critical Media
  76. Praxis, School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social
    1. Sciences
  77. Kabi Sherman, Bombay
  78. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, advocate, Mumbai
  79. Karuna D’Souza, Delhi
  80. Kavita Krishnan, AIPWA Secretary
  81. Ketaki Chowkhani, TISS, Mumbai
  82. Ketaki Rege, Lawyer, Mumbai
  83. Kriti Budhiraja, JNU
  84. Kiran Shaheen, Journalist and Anti Poverty Activist
  85. Kislay, Student, Film and Television Institute of India, Pune
  86. Labia Queer Feminist LBT Collective, Mumbai
  87. Lavanya Ramakrishnan, Software Engineer, US
  88. Lesley A. Esteves, queer rights activist, New Delhi
  89. Lorraine D’Souza, Mumbai
  90. Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM Delhi
  91. Mamatha Karollil, Ambedkar University, Delhi(AUD)
  92. Mario da Penha, St. Xavier’s Alumnus & Historian, Mumbai
  93. Mahmood Farooqui, writer and theatre artist, Delhi
  94. Maharukh Adenwalla, Advocate, Mumbai
  95. Manisha Sethi, Academic, Delhi
  96. Mansi Sharma, activist, Delhi
  97. Marcia D Cunha
  98. Mary E. John, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS).
  99. Mary Kochuveettil, St Mary and Community
  100. Maya Krishna Rao
  101. Meena Saraswathi Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
  102. Mercy Minj
  103. Prof. Mridula Mukherjee, Professor of Modern Indian History,
    1. or Historical Studies and Dean, School of Social 
  104. Nandini Rao, Delhi
  105. Navjot Altaf, artist, Mumbai
  106. Neha Lamech, Student, London school of hygiene and tropical Medicine, Chennai.
  107. Nikhil Titus, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Xaviers alumni, 2007
  108. Nishant Shah, Professor, Leuphana University, Lueneburg, Germany
  109. Niti Saxena, Lucknow
  110. Nivedita Menon, JNU, Delhi
  111. Noella de Souza, Avehi-Abacus Project, Mumbai
  112. Noor, Xavier Alumni, New Delhi
  113. Noor Enayat, Brand Consultant, New Delhi
  114. Proshant Chakraborty, Alumni, St Xavier’s, 2013
  115. Prabha Saha, Alumni, media professional, Class of ’92
    1. Sr. Pratiksha Rathod F.C.St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Mumbai
  116. Proshant Chakraborty, Xavier Alumni, 2013, Bombay
  117. Purva Dewoolkar
  118. Purwa Bharadwaj, Writer/Researcher, Delhi
  119. Putul Sathe
  120. Ram Puniyani, All India Secular Forum
  121. Rama Shyam, Governing Board member, SAHER
  122. Rakhi Sehgal
  123. Ratna, lawyer, New Delhi
  124. Rituparna Borah, queer feminist activist, Delhi
  125. Rochelle Pinto
  126. Rohini Hensman, independent scholar and writer, Bombay
  127. Dr R.S.Dahiya, HGVS Haryana
  128. Rupal Oza
  129. Sadia Zafar, University of Oxford, Oxford
  130. Saheli Women’s Resource Centre, New Delhi
  131. Sameera Khan, independent journalist and researcher, Mumbai
  132. Sangeeta Banerji, Tata institute of Social Sciences
  133. Shabani Hassanwalia, filmmaker, New Delhi
  134. Shalini Mahajan, Mumbai
  135. Shalini Nirmal, Ghaziabad
  136. Shalini Sharma, Guwahati
  137. Shazia Nigar, Journalist, Bhubaneswar
  138. Sheba Chacchi, independent artist and activist, New Delhi
  139. Shilpa Phadke, Assistant Professor, School of Media and Cultural
    1. Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Xavier alumni
  140. Shipra Nigam, Consultant Economist, New Delhi
  141. Shoba V Ghosh, University of Mumbai
  142. Shubhabrata Bhattacharya
  143. Shruti Upadhyay
  144. Shruti Mukherjee, TARSHI
  145. Shyama Narang, Medical Doctor, Bangalore
  146. Simantini Dhuru, documentary filmmaker, education activist
  147. Simpreet Singh
  148. Stephanie D’sa, Content writer and Xavier Alumni, Mumbai
  149. Sudheer Rikhari
  150. Sujatha Subramanian
  151. Sukla Sen, EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai
  152. Suma Josson
  153. Sumi Krishna, independent scholar and writer, Bangalore
  154. Suroor, advocate and child rights activist
  155. Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Ahmedabad
  156. Tavpritesh Sethi, Scientist, Delhi
  157. Teena Gill
  158. Tejaswini Pendse, Xavier Alumni, Mumbai
  159. Tejaswini Niranjana, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society, Bangalore
  160. Tushar Joag, Associate Professor, School of Art, Design and Performing
  161. Arts, Shiv Nadar University
  162. Ujjwala Mhatre
  163. Uma Chakravarti, feminist historian, New Delhi
  164. Uma.V.Chandru
  165. Umang Bhattacharya, filmmaker and photographer, New Delhi
  166. Urmimala Sarkar, Associate Professor, School of Arts and Aesthetics,
    1. Jawaharlal Nehru University
  167. Vahida Nainar, Women’s Rights, Human Rights Law Researcher
  168. Vaibhav Parel, Delhi University
  169. Varsha Mehta
  170. Vani Subramanian
  171. Veena Poonacha
  172. Vijay Hiremath
  173. Vineeta Bal, Scientist, New Delhi.
  174. Vinita Bhatia, Associate Professor, St Xaviers College, Mumbai
  175. Vinita Sahasranaman, Gurgaon
  176. Virginia Saldanha, Indian Christian Women’s Movement, Mumbai
  177. Vivan Sundaram, Independent artist, Delhi

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