Father Mascarenhas’ election advisory to Xavier’s students gets a thumbs up from alumni Vidya Balan, Zubin Mehta


St Xavier’s College principal Father Frazer Mascarenhas’ email to the students of the institution created an uproar among the media and the public. It launched discussions on whether Father Mascarenhas was right or wrong in his capacity as the principal of a reputed and government-funded institute like St Xavier’s College in doing so. In his email, Father Mascarenhas questioned the Gujarat model of g rowth, while acknowledging the Congress’s Food Security and Rojgar Yojana schemes. (He did not, however, name any political party or leader). He ended his email by asking the students to choose well. Some people lauded Father Mascarenhas’ email as a proactive endeavour to guide students at a critical time in the nation’s history. Others criticised him for trying to influence young minds.
ETPanache asked some of the institution’s illustrious alumni their views on Father Mascarenhas’ email.
Vidya Balan, actor and recent Padma Shri awardee, says, “We live in a democracy and everyone has the right to an opinion. Irrespective of my political beliefs, as a democracy I think we should stop getting touchy about everything — be it art, films or opinions because it is after all an individual’s expression. As an alumnus, I can say that Xavier’s is a secular institution and it espouses democratic values. Each of us is encouraged to be an individual in our own right and that includes having your own opinions. Father Frazer’s opinion was shared by him as his alone and he encouraged students to vote in favour of who they think is most deserving. There was no motive to incite religious sentiments. He wrote to the students of Xavier’s on the college website and I believe he had every right to do the same.” Says Zubin Mehta, music conductor and Padma Vibhushan recipient, “I feel it is very healthy for a principal of a college to encourage students to vote. However, I insist that this must happen without favouring one candidate or party over another.”
Industrialist Adi Godrej, Man Booker Prize shortlisted writer Rohinton Mistry and author Amish Tripathi declined to comment on the issue. Actress Freida Pinto did not reply to an email.

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