The Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has faced a lot of flak over his Gujarat development model. On Tuesday, criticism came from an unexpected corner when the principal of St Xavier’s College in Mumbai, one of the premier educational institutions in the city, sent out an email to nearly 3,000 students critiquing Gujarat’s development model.
Father Frazer Mascarenhas wrote an e-mail to his students and even posted the contents of the email on the college website. It read, ‘All the Human Development Index indicators and the cultural polarisation of the population show that Gujarat has had a terrible experience 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.’
He went on to acknowledge the Congress’s Food Security and Rozgar Yojana schemes. He said in his email, ‘As opposed to this, efforts like the Rozgar 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’ and even recognised the role the government has played in passing the Right to Information Act.'
Mascarenhas further asked his students to choose well in the elections, saying, ‘Support for people who pledge to work to take Human Development Indicators higher and who commit themselves to a pluralistic culture in diverse India — this is the hope for the future. No magic wand or divine miracles will come to the aid of the Indian people. Their reasoned choice of individuals and political parties, who promise to work for a real quality of life for all, will see India prosper or flounder on the precipice.’
Image: St Xavier's College in Mumbai