My Dear Esteemed Students and Friends,
I could have written this letter to you yesterday but I desisted from doing so for the simple reason that I did not wish to influence your voting decisions and patterns when you go to vote today all over Mumbai. But I must also confess that I did not do so mainly because I have held and continue to hold complete faith in your capacity for taking right decisions without being tutored. As a former teacher I know full well of how most among your generation are capable of taking a positive direction when it comes to choosing an effective leader for this country.
I also have an abiding faith in your capacities to judge, peruse and then decide on who is best suited to realise and usher in the India which you aspire for and which you feel shall best express your hopes and dreams. That said, I would like to place a few points before you, which in my perception, you must know and may perhaps like to reflect upon.
I shall begin, as I always prefer doing, with a reference to history and on why I and many others would have preferred your great institution to be known by some other name, as for example College of Christ’s Compassion, or simply Christ College. Your revered Principal Father Frazer Mascarenhas may not have told you or discussed with you the fact that our civilisational experience and memory of the Saint in whose name your College runs is not a very happy one. I shall cite from the Saint’s own words, in order to point out why.
Francis Xavier’s letters describing his preaching campaigns in India seem to reveal a very intolerant mind and vision. Sample this one, “The fruit that is reaped by the baptism of infants, as well as by the instruction of children and others, is quite incredible…Whenever I hear of any act of idolatrous worship, I go to the place with a large band of these children, who very soon load the devil [statues of Hindu gods] with a greater amount of insult and abuse…The children run at the idols, upset them, dash them down, break them to pieces, spit on them, trample on them, kick them about, and in short heap on them every possible outrage.” Would you not agree with me that Xavier was not the best kind of teacher?
The sublime message of Christ seemed to have had no effect on the expressions and the actions of Xavier. He exuded a disturbingly discriminating attitude, read this for yourself, “The Indians being black themselves, consider their own colour the best, they believe that their gods are black. On this account the great majority of their idols are as black as can be, and moreover are generally so rubbed over with oil as to smell detestably, and seem to be as dirty as they are ugly and horrible to look at.” I may be dragging things, but perhaps you may consider this concluding bit from the thoughts of St Xavier, “When I have finished baptising the people, I order them to destroy the huts in which they keep their idols; and I have them break statues of their idols into tiny pieces, since they are now Christians. I could never come to an end describing to you the great consolation which fills my soul when I see idols being destroyed by the hands of those who had been idolators.”
It has also been historically established now that it was at the behest of Xavier that the “Holy Inquisition” was initiated in Goa and which saw a terrible phase of torture and misery. In his letter to John III, King of Portugal, dated 16th May 1545, Xavier called upon the king to “establish the Holy Inquisition” because there were many who lived according to their laws of belief and “without any fear of God or shame of the world.” It is for you to judge, against a civilisational backdrop, as to whether you endorse such a view of life and, more importantly, of the other.
Discussing the Gujarat model, you must perhaps know that a number of leading economists and economic commentators of national and international repute have endorsed and positively discussed the Gujarat model of governance and among them are some names that you would instantly recognise, like Bibek Debroy, Jagadish Bhagwati, R.Vaidyanathan, Arvind Panagariya etc. You may like to do a comparative study of these varying readings and perceptions and draw your own conclusions.
Your Principal referred to the endorsement of a certain model by Amartya Sen I would like to bring to your notice that Amartya Sen’s own state of West Bengal, which had been, till the other day, under the rule of his ideological friends who are said to have been inspired by his models and thoughts, had seen starvation deaths in Amlasole, a village of tribals, mostly Mundas and Shabar, on the border with Jharkhand. In 2004 when starvation deaths among tribals in the region were reported, the then West Bengal state government had called it “media hype.” Under thirty years of a people’s government with support from some of the most vocal and active civil society groups, the tribals of West Bengal continued to be marginalised. Surely you would not want such a system to be given credence and space where tribals are marginalised and are allowed to die because of lack of food and attention?
If you undertake some amount of serious research you will see that tribals in Gujarat, on the contrary, have fared quite well over the last decade or so. Here are a few examples. There is a major difference between the tribals living on the Gujarat side of the border and those on the Maharashtra side. Those in Gujarat get “almost 24 hours of domestic power.” As Uday Mahurkar, a senior and non-partisan journalist, who is definitely not a “news-trader”, has documented in his latest book, which you would like to read, their [tribals] “mobiles are always charged and the better off among them have refrigerators to boast of.”
But the material indicator is perhaps not enough and to students of a prestigious educational institution one needs to talk about education as well. Have you been told about the Vanbandhu Scheme for tribal development? A unique tribal focused scheme launched in 2007 in Gujarat the Vanbandhu Scheme works to bring about an “integrated development of tribal areas with the aim to cover the smallest of tribal activity? The 18,000 crore scheme focuses on “skill training”, improving road-connectivity and schools” and much more by bridging gaps. Your revered principal may like to visit the around 50 tribal schools that have been set up under this scheme and which have been showing impressive results in examinations. You will all appreciate the fact that in the Secondary Board Exams in 2013, a tribal school under this scheme in the district of Panchamahal “registered 100 percent results.”
The scheme also focuses on skill development, or vocational education training (VET) for tribal students who had “failed in 10th & 12th standards.” These youngsters are exposed to forty different fields by experts. Between 2007 and 2012 Rs.200 crore was spent on imparting such a training enabling “almost 10,000” such youth to get jobs in various fields. What will also make you proud and hopeful for the rest of the country is that 98% schools in Gujarat have girls’ toilet versus 75% nationally. If this is not governance based on compassion and empowerment, pray, your revered Principal, may explain what is?
I shall not make my letter any longer and shall conclude with a point that you need to be made aware of. The alliance in Gujarat seems to be between the people and its Government with both working towards the welfare of all. Otherwise how does one explain the observation of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India which had observed referring to the acquisition of land that there is “one state from where” it did not receive any complaints on forcible acquisition and that was Gujarat. “Look at Ahmedabad”, it said, “which is developing but there are no complaints from that place. They have the same officers of the same cadre as in the rest of the country…Officers from other states can train under their Gujarat counterparts.”
You must realise or reflect upon the reality, which is that the real threat to the “idea of India”, the real hurdle to national welfare, progress, empowerment, to India realising her true potential comes from an alliance or cocktail of pseudo-Leftists-Crony Capitalists-Family Legatees. It is such a lethal cocktail that allows farmers to starve and commit suicide or even ensures that they are fired upon and evicted from their lands.
Your support and dream should ideally be for those who think of India –as a whole, who strive to liberate the discourse from narrow blinkers and denominational chains and who wish to liberate the mind of young India by igniting it with the flame of an energy that comes from a deep and abiding faith in the true Self. Your support must be to the one who believes that all of you are an integral part and participant in that coming revolution which aspires to place India as a front ranking nation on the world stage. Decide well!
My apologies for inflicting a whole essay on you, but by the time it reaches you, weekend shall be near and so happy weekend reading!
Dr. Anirban Ganguly
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