Category Archives: Gujarat
The person (or maybe the copywriter) who, in a bout of linguistic inspiration, first suggested that Narendra Modi kem cho and conquered America probably never had politics on his mind. Unfortunately, when it comes to India’s Prime Minister, politics of a sharply partisan variety is never far away. From the innocuous “may the force be with you” aside to a rock concert in New York City to the severity of his Navratri fast, almost everything Modi does is minutely dissected by an army of pundits, in a constant state of readiness for the first major lapse — something more substantial than saying ‘Mohanlal’ for ‘Mohandas’.
For the moment, Modi has given his detractors few opportunities to show him up as a desi bumpkin, totally out of his depth in the glitzy world of politics and diplomacy. Initially, when it was suggested that the Prime Minister would conduct his global diplomacy in Hindi, there were a few sniggers from those comfortable with Indian leaders speaking to the world in English, and that too in unaccented Received Pronunciation — what in Indian parlance is dubbed ‘convent English’. Unfortunately for them, this unwillingness to flaunt the Commonwealth connection was widely appreciated in India. Indeed, the fact that Modi chose to emulate Atal Bihari Vajpayee and speak to the UN General Assembly in Hindi was internalised by India as a symbol of national pride, even by those who believe that the English language has an important role to play in India.
From purposeless mutterings about insisting on Hindi when he has an adequate grasp of English to misgivings over overdoing the Gujarati bit was a short step. Unlike HD Deve Gowda, the self-professed “humble farmer” who was ridiculed as the ‘Prime Minister of Karnataka’, Modi’s regional identity hasn’t yet been projected as a political liability. Yet, Modi is unquestionably a Gujarati in the same way as President Pranab Mukherjee leaves people in little doubt that he is a Bengali. More to the point, Modi makes no attempt to conceal his Gujarati-ness. In his speeches he draws freely from his experiences as chief minister of Gujarat for 13 years and it is also likely that at home he keeps a Gujarati table. On their part, Gujaratis, whether in Ahmedabad or New Jersey, see him as one of their own — a local lad from Vadnagar made good.
Does Modi’s deep regional roots make him less of a pan-Indian leader? This certainly was the implicit suggestion of those who tried to brush off the spectacular reception he received at the Madison Square Garden rally as a made-in-Gujarat event that it clearly wasn’t.
Unconsciously or otherwise, the contrived charge of a creeping Gujarati-isation of India’s public life has a great deal to do with the ‘model’ leadership of the Nehrus and Gandhis. Jawaharlal Nehru, the man who set the tone of Indian cosmopolitanism, was a Kashmiri Pandit whose family settled in Allahabad. However, thanks to his very English upbringing, Nehru never acquired regional roots. He was undeniably an Indian, but an Indian who could never call a part of India his own. Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel were unmistakably Gujarati; Subhash Chandra Bose cut his political teeth in the Bengal Congress; and Lokmanya Tilak and Gopal Krishna Gokhale were rooted in the social churning of the Bombay Presidency.
The above-it-all cosmopolitanism that Nehru and his dynastic successors assiduously projected was an aberration and belonged to a culture of patrician rule. In their own way, the Congress’ first family sought to create an elite that saw India as an intellectual abstraction — something to be studied, understood but not identified with. Modi is a break from this tradition. He epitomises an India that is increasingly self-assured, even self-contained. His style — including sartorial preferences — and engagement with the world is much more located in an evolving India.
“You have the money, but you don’t have class,” a public personality is said to have taunted a group of Modi loyalists in New York last week. It was an arrogant remark befitting a sub-strata that feels politically and culturally dispossessed by social forces Modi has unleashed. As long as condescension defines the opposition to him, Modi has no reason to feel threatened. Entitlement is rarely able to overwhelm energy.
Global Indians for Bharat Vikas
12 Pendleton Place, Edison, NJ 08820, USA http://www.gibv.org, <firstname.lastname@example.org>, 570-884-GIBV
India: Basement, Meera Manan Arcade, Parimal Garden, Amdavad-380006, 079-2640-7771
May 18, 2014
Global Indian for Bharat Vikas (GIBV) is very happy to congratulate Shri Narendra Modi on leading BJP and NDA a to unprecedented and historical victory in the recently concluded national elections of India.
This election has far reaching consequences for India and the world. After 30 long years, era of coalition politics has come to an end. A stable government where BJP has clear majority will be able to take critical decisions without succumbing to pressures from small regional parties with narrow interests. India has huge potential for development. It has rich natural resources and largest population of people under age 35. Shri Narendra Modi is capable of unleashing this potential and harnessing energy of the youth and employing it for all round progress.
Another salient point of this election is end of dynastic rule of Nehru-Gandhi family. Congress, led by this family forever has been reduced to a paltry 44 seats, failing the minimum threshold to qualify for leader of opposition in the Loksabha. Most of its ministers and seasoned members have lost spectacularly. Shri Modi had promised Congress Mukta Bharat and the process has begun. Congress has failed to win a single seat in seven states and has not been able to cross double digit in any state. Disintegration of Congress is now only a matter of time.
From BJP’s tally in UP and Bihar, it is clear that people have voted crossing barriers of caste and religion and in favor of development and stability. Decimation of BSP and SP in their bastion points to the beginning of the end of caste driven politics. As a matter of fact thousands of migrant workers and employees of major corporations in Gujarat who hail from UP, Bihar and Odisha and have experienced benefits of Gujarat model firsthand became brand ambassador for Shri Narendra Modi in their respective states.
Shri Narendra Modi deserves praise for conceiving, planning and executing a superb campaign using all the tools available, be it the social media or Chai Pe Charcha. He has led from the front and enthused millions of volunteers across the globe to work for a clear majority for BJP and a formidable tally for NDA. He has turned every obstacle, every insult thrown at him into a formidable weapon, be it Chaiwala or Jehar ki Kheti (poison farming) or Nichee jati (lower caste.)
Under Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, we look forward to a time when India will lead the world, not as a superpower but as a cultural Guru, where age old and time tested ethos of Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam (The whole universe is a family) and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah (May all be happy) will lead to an era of cooperation instead of conflict and nations would compete to provide better living conditions to their citizens instead of stockpiling weapons in a game of one-upmanship.
Congratulations are also in order to the voters of India. They voted in big numbers. They voted judiciously and decisively. They voted for better future. This exhibits maturity of Indian electorate.
We at Global Indians for Bharat Vikas, a USA based international organization interested in the long term development of India with a Nationalist government at the helm are proud to have 1000+ volunteers across the globe who helped Shri Modi’s campaign in different ways. We will continue to help a government headed by Shri Narendra Modi by providing critical input on issues of importance to the nation.
We wish Narendrabhai Modi grand success as he sets out to tackle seemingly insurmountable problems of a weak economy, all pervading corruption, stagnant job market, instability, terrorism, etc. We feel proud that a giant of a Man , a visionary and a nationalist is going to be sworn in as the Prime Minister of India within a few days. Indeed, Better Days are Ahead.
Dr. Mahesh Mehta Gaurang G. Vaishnav Anjlee Pandya
President National Convener Secretary, India operations
Boston., MA Edison, NJ Amdavad, Gujarat
History in the Making- on the Campaign Trail, from USA to India- 6
I spent three days (April 22 to 24) campaigning in Junagadh district and covered Junagadh, Visavadar and Bhesan talukas. I also spent half a day in Mendarada taluka, which is part of Porbandar district. I was aided by GIBV (Global Indians for Bharat Vikas) team on ground led by one Dhirubhai Savaliya.
These are the villages I had a chance to visit and talk with people.
Visavadar Taluka: Dadar, Miya Vadia, Juni Chavand, Leriya, Monapari Nani
Junagadh Taluka: Ambaliya, Baliyavad, Bilkha, Chokli, Goladhar, Jhalansar, Kathrota, Majevadi, Makhiyala, Nawa Pipaliya, Patrapsar, Sukhpur, Vadal, Vadasimdi
Bhesan Taluka: Bhesan, Mendpara, Parab Vavdi, Ranpur
Mendarda Taluka: Khadpipli, Mithapur, Thana Pipali, Vasapada
A typical day would start around 9:30 AM and end at 8:30 PM. We would pile in a rented car (no party funds) and travel to various villages. This wasn’t a door-to-door campaign but more of meeting with village head or influential persons in the village. They would have good assessment of how the village would vote. I had different people traveling with me every day, some being common. The number in our party would be as low as three and as high as seven. On of them was an Ayurvedic doctor, one was a Naturopathy doctor and one was a lawyer. All of these were Patels and involved with farming.
One day Ukabhai Patlodia, president of Junagadh District Bharatiya Kishan Sangh, accompanied us. I could see that he commanded total respect wherever we went. It was almost as if his was God’s word. Other day, I had Ravinbhai Dudhatra, the Naturopathy doctor who knew each and everyone in villages that we visited in Mendarda Taluka. It was clear to me that all these volunteers had spent years cultivating relations with these villages through their association with Vishwa Hindu Parishad, BJP, RSS and/or Gau Raksha movement. One cannot help but appreciate ground level work of RSS.
Wherever we went, we were received with warmth except at couple of places to which I will come later. I had observed strict rule of not eating any solid food during the daytime while campaigning to preserve my health (at least up until May 10th, last day of campaigning) but I could not refuse offer of cold drinks like water, lemon-water, sherbet, (I don’t take tea or coffee) etc., and villagers in Saurashtra (western Gujarat) are known for their hospitality. Besides, heat was scorching. Highest temperature on a given day would be around 102-105 f. degrees. In three days I drank liquid that I would drink in a month at home!
We met with sarpanchs, farmers’ leaders, business leaders, etc. and also visited a couple of election offices of BJP.
Here are my observations: The election on Junagadh seat is fought on caste lines and unfortunately this is true in all of Gujarat. In Junagadh, voters we met with were predominantly Leua Patels (Keshubhai Patel’s caste). BJP candidate is Rajesh Chudasama a Koli Patel who is a sitting MLA. Congress candidate, Punjabhai Vansh is also a Koli Patel who is a senior MLA with good record. Koli Patels are evenly divided in supporting either candidate.
Problem for BJP is the by-election to Visavadar MLA’s seat. Keshubhai has vacated it for his son, Bharat Patel (a price he extracted from Modiji to merge his failed GPP party with BJP). Farmers are vociferously opposed to Bharat Patel because they feel that those who have toiled for years are marginalized and a rank outsider, known for his corrupt ways has been foisted upon them. Add to this the fact that the Congress candidate, Harshadbhai for Visavadar MLA seat has been known to take care of the day to day problems of the farmers. We repeatedly heard in the Visavadar Taluka villages a question- “how can we not vote for Harshadbhai?” Another fear the villages have is that, Keshubhai didn’t do much for them in his 15 years career, including being a C. M. and now they would be stuck with Bharat Patel for another 15 years.
BJP has to confront the reality that these farmers, who are eager to vote for the Congress candidate at MLA level, would likely also push the Congress button for M. P. candidate too. This would harm Mr. Chudasma, unless he covers enough ground in other talukas where there is no by-election. Our job was cut out. We had to explain to them the importance of keeping eye on the top prize, that is to make Narendra Modi the P.M., which would be possible only of they consciously voted for BJP candidate at national level. It was at least good to see that practically everyone we met had high praise for Modiji and wanted to see him win.
It is clear that though this is the national election, average villager is looking only at his local problem and day to day issues that he has to grapple with.
Another thing I noticed was that these villages would vote en-bloc for a chosen candidate and most likely they would listen to the village head or any other influential leader. Except for villages in Visavadar Taluka, there was resounding vote for Modiji.
At a supporter’s shop in Vadal (Author first from right in the second row)
With the village elders under a tree (Chai Pe Charcha?
Mendarda Taluka falls in Porbandar district where the BJP candidate is Vitthalbhai Radadia, another Leua Patel. He has a checkered history. He started with BJP, went over to two other parties before moving on to Congress and then coming back to BJP in 2013. He is a powerful leader who has always managed to win. His victory is a foregone conclusion. We met with his followers, who are essentially Congress people. They told me that at local level elections, they would vote for Congress but for this election, they will vote for BJP. When I questioned their rationale, answer was simple- we will do anything for Vitthalbhai! You can see that the election is fought not on party affiliation but on personalities and castes. It is a very scary proposition for the health of Indian democracy. Worst is the fact that this Vitthalbhai is nothing short of a muscleman (Bahubali); he became infamous in 2012 (when he was in Congress) for brandishing guns with his goons at a Gujarat tollbooth when he was asked to pay the toll. May God save India from such goons, regardless of the party they belong too. (You may note that he is not the only candidate with such antecedents.)
In a village called Khadpipli, we met with well to do farmers who are known to be scrupulously honest and against corruption. They had nothing but praise for Modiji.
Now I come to two experiences that were eye opener. We were at one village at the fag end of the day. We set on charpais and chairs and the local person started talking about election. The host, a man of may be 30-35 years, immediately retorted- if you have come here to talk about Kishan Sangh, then you are most welcome, but if you have come here to talk about politics, you are not welcome. Sensing his anger, we turned around the subject. I asked him as to what bothered him. A litany of issues came out like a torrent. He also had a colleague, a RSS trained young degreed engineer who put the grievances more sophisticatedly. Three issues stood out.
(1)Forest department’s continuous harassment.- whenever an animal dies in a farm, the farmer is taken into custody, even if the animal has died of natural causes. A few moths back a lion had died and the farmers were arrested by the police and beaten mercilessly. No political leader of BJP came to their rescue.
(2)GEB enforces new rule of Gujarat Government vehemently where one farm can only get one meter up to 10KWh. Farmers who have large holdings and need 30 kwh or more cannot get it, even if they are ready to pay extra for meters. This is a sore point.
(3)Elected members do not care to show their faces or listen to the villagers, once they have gone to Gandhinagar. I was told by the engineer, Bharat Savaliya that they had gone to Gandhinagar for a representation and their MLA, who was very much in office there lied and told them that he was out of town. They did catch him red-handed when he emerged from his office.
At a village in Junagadh Taluka, Patrapsar, we had another experience though for different reason. We were supposed to meet this person who had a shop in small village square. He and a few others came out, received us and offered cold drinks. When we talked about our mission, they told us that no one from the party (BJP) had visited them so far. The candidate, i.e., Bharat Patel had come to the next village but did not have time/courtesy to visit them. They had to listen to taunts from the opposition party because the party did not even send them any publicity material. They were quite agitated and it took us a while to calm them down.
Apart from these incidences, which are the real barometer, it was smooth sailing. To my surprise, fact that someone from USA had come to meet them created a big and positive impression everywhere. Youth were quite enthused for Modiji.
All in all, BJP will win but we should not be under the illusion that it will be a cakewalk. Positive part is that those who are bothered with local issues also understand importance of a Modi win and most likely will vote strategically.
P.S.: I had taken a non-AC train from Amdavad to Junagadh to be with the “common man”. It was a good experience. Person seating next to me was a well educated (Master’s level) and had decided to takeover his father’s business of barbershop rather than working for someone else. He had a lot of negative feelings for things around, but was positive that Modiji would win. He was proud of the fact that the actor Paresh Rawal, who is a BJP candidate from Amdavad, East had called him home for his services. Another person sitting next to me was an aged Sunni Muslim who was in charge of a mosque in the town of Wankaner. He was quite sober and while he did not outright endorse Modiji, he gave indication that people should vote for their betterment. There was also another Muslim couple sitting across from me with their two teenage sons. This guy was a “rekadi wala”, meaning pushcart hawker. I was talking with his wife and the elder son who was in 10th. I told him about Modiji’s idea of having Quran in one hand and computer in another. The message was received without any apparent hesitation.
Lastly, the religious head of the Muslim Bohra community, whom they consider almost as God was traveling by another train so at every medium to big size station, there were the followers (they are Shia and were Brahmins before forced conversion) by hundreds. They were decked in their best attire, old, young, man, woman, children- all – and it looked like a big festival. They had erected makeshift podium on those stations. I was told that the Dharmaguru’s train was running late by hours, as he had to stop at all these stations to speak for a few minutes.
I must end this report with heartfelt thanks to Global Indians for Bharat Vikas (GIBV), Amdavad office for making arrangements for my campaign and also to all individual volunteers in Junagadh who were diligent, knowledgeable, persuasive, accommodating and pleasant company.
My next report will be a brief one on my tour of Rajkot for a day and a half. That may come from Varanasi and my USA GIBV colleague Girishhbai Gandhi and I will be flying early tomorrow to Varanasi to campaign there, in Amethi (BJP’s Smrriti Irani is contesting against Rahul Gandhi) and in Azamgadh (S.P.’s Mulayam Singh is contesting from there.)
Narendra Modi story a hoax – Times of India Clarifies
Bangalore, July 14: The manner in which the media has twisted Narendra Modi’s comments in a recent interview to Reuters are a good example of how Media creates controversies around Narendra Modi and then goes on milk those controversies for weeks to generate traffic, eyeballs and TRPs.
It now turns out that the Times of India report of 23rd June attributing claims to Narendra Modi was a false and mischevious report. The Times of India has now belatedly issued a lame clarification almost 3 weeks after the fact.
The Times of India clarification has appeared today as a small insert in an inner page in one of its local editions. In the clarification the Times of India admits to its mistake and also admits that its mistake created a huge controversy for Narendra Modi for no fault of Mr Modi.
The clarification also admits that all the exaggeration in that report was due to Times of India. The clarification makes it clear that neither did Narendra Modi, nor did the Gujarat Government have anything to do with the mischevious report.
It is shocking that the Times of India filed such an irresponsible report without checking with Narendra Modi or Government of Gujarat. It is also mischevious that the Times of India milked the controversy for so many weeks by allowing the Congress Party and other anti-Modi elements to take advantage of this report to write slanderous and defamatory columns as well as run a motivated campaign in Social Media.
This lame excuse by Times of India coming 3 weeks after the damage was done is a case of doing too little too late.
By Japan K Pathak
Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat, 17 April 2013
With official documents in hand, in this series I am trying to narrate the details of crorepati non-government organizations functioning in Gujarat – author
The last article was about details of foreign funding to Shabnam Hashmi’s NGO ANHAD. In that article we mentioned that one of the founders of ANHAD was Mr. Harsh Mander, a former IAS officer and Action Aid India man.
According to Wikipedia page, Harsh Mander was a signatory to the campaign to save Afzal Guru, a terrorist convicted and later hanged for the 2001 Indian Parliament attack. Mander also supports the demand for removal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 from Kashmir and North-eastern states. Harsh is convener of the drafting committee for the Communal Violence (Prevention) bill. Harsh Mander applied for mercy to Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab courting a huge controversy.
Wikipedia page further tells that Harsh became member of National Advisory Council of the UPA government in 2010 and special commissioner to the Supreme Court.He was removed from the NAC in 2012. He worked formerly in the Indian Administrative Service in the predominantly tribal states Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh for almost two decades.
Harsh Mander heads NGO called “Aman Biradari”. He is founder member of Shabnam Hashmi led organization ANHAD.
But this article is about Mr. Mander’s another organization – ‘Centre for Equity Studies’(CES). This is a foreign funded (with partial funding from Christian organizations and church) NGO, headquartered in Delhi. We have obtained two-year data of foreign funding to Mander’s Centre for Equity Studies(CES).
In year 2011-12, CES received Rs 7,55,17,631.25 foreign funding. As per CES’s submission before government’s concerned department, justice for victim in states including Gujarat was one of the cause for which foreign fund was received and utilized. Research and homes for street children were other works for which money was received and spent in Gujarat area.
As Gujarat is involved somewhere, we are covering Harsh’s Delhi headquartered CES in our series.
In 2011, Mr. Mander’s NGO received highest amount of aid from Netherlands based ‘Partnership Foundation’ for “welfare of children”. From online resources we learn that Partnership Foundation was set up by Ferd van Koolwijk, a Dutch businessman, who initiated the Rainbow Home Program in February 2002 for school children at Sister Cyril’s Loreto Day School in Kolkata. Sister Cyril is from Ireland based Christian religious organization – Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Loreto). Harsh Mander is the main partner of Partnership Foundation in New Delhi. Rainbow Home program is for homeless girls upto age of 18. Partnership Foundation has donated crores and crores of rupees to Mr. Mander’s NGO apparently to run Rainbow homes.
Then CES has received nearly Rs 90 lakh are as donation from Denmark based Christian organization DAN Church AID.
Rs 10 lakh received from America based Association for India’s Development(AID). This organization called AID also supports Medha Patkar in her Narmada movement and anti-Delhi Mumbai corridor movement. AID supported the movement to free Binayak Sen who was allegedly connected to Naxals and therefore jailed, but released later. Arvind Kejriwal is AID Saathi. What is AID Saathi? Well, AID recognizes certain activists in India with “Saathi” awards and support them in a manner that allows them freedom to operate without the constraints of a specific time-bound project. The program creates a mutually enriching relationship between AID and the Saathi and entails not only support in the form of a stipend, but also non-monetary involvement and strategic support from AID volunteers.
Germany’s BODO Huetten Foundation which works with children in education sector is another donor. Action Aid India is ofcourse at Mr. Mander’s help. International Development Research Centre – another donor to CES is headquartered in Canada. Members of IDRC’s Board of Governors are appointed by the Government of Canada.
One interesting source of donation is the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) – the bank that was in news for alleged dubious money transfers.
America based Indian Muslim Relief & Charities is another donor of Mander’s NGO. The same Muslim organization helped Shabnam Hashmi’s ANHAD also.
Now let’s move on to year 2010-11 records. Mr. Mander’s NGO CES received foreign funding of Rs 47817508.11 in this year.
Partnership Foundation is of course the top donor. IDRC also there. Then there’s an organization called Sangat which is based in Bradford, UK. American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin is another donor of CES this year with less than Rs 10 lakh donation.
Then there’s again a Church. One NGO ‘ICCI and Kerkin Actie’ has donated around Rs 70 lakh in a year to Mr. Mander’s NGO for research, seminars and other activities. Kerkin Actie (in Dutch) means Church in Action.
Concluding – in two years Mr. Harsh Mander’s one NGO CES received Rs 123335139.36 fund from abroad. We don’t have any detail about locally sourced funds of CES.
Previous article in this series:Shabnam Hashmi’s ANHAD is majorly Church funded
By Japan K Pathak
Ahmedabad, DeshGujarat, 16 April 2013
With official documents in hand, in this series I am trying to narrate the details of crorepati non-government organizations functioning in Gujarat – author
When I read status updates on left-winger NGO operator Shabnam Hashmi’s foreign tours, when I look at her anti-Modi ad anti-Right campaigns on Facebook, when I learn that she travels in planes, and manage to have a house in Amdavad, when I learn she camped in Gujarat before the assembly elections for weeks and weeks, the questions arise in my mind: how one manage to spend so much without doing job or business like normal people!
But after getting hold of the official documents on foreign funded organizations in India, I have been able to find some answers.
Shabnam Hashmi runs ANHAD (Act Now for Harmony and Democracy) with registered address as 23, Canning Lane (Pandir Ravi Shankar Shukl Lane) in New Delhi.
Her association is described as Cultural, education and social. Yes, the word ‘political’ is not part of the description.
Hashmi’s NGO received Rs. 1,66,10,753.60 foreign fund in year 2011-12 for “strengthening communal harmony and democracy.”
Now let’s do dissection of the foreign fund, Shabnam Hashmi received during that year.
The highest foreign fund was donated by Britain based organization Christian Aid. ANHAD has received around Rs one crore fund in a year from this organization.
Among the other organizations that made donations to Ms. Hashmi’s ANHAD are IMRC (Indian Muslim Relief and Charities) headquartered in Palo Alto California and Church Auxiliary for Social Action(CASA).
Now let’s move on to the figures of year 2010-11.
ANHAD received foreign donation of Rs 1,65,25,433. Christian Aid was again the main donor Google India,with donation in this year worth Rs 84 lakh around.
In both 2011 and 2010 OXFAM was also one of the major donors of ANHAD.
Interestingly Action-Aid India is also one of the major donors of ANHAD. We accessed the funding details of Action-Aid Associations and found that in same year Action Aid was donated Rs 46053800.00 by a single donor – Google India Private Limited for “welfare of other backward class.”
ANHAD was established in March 2003, as a response to 2002 Gujarat riots by Shabnam Hashmi, Marxian historian Prof. K N Panikkar and social activist Harsh Mander. As per its Wiki page, ANHAD plays a major role in Gujarat to fight against human right violations,as well as in the Kashmir Valley.ANHAD is registered as a trust and has six trustees. They are Shabnam Hashmi, K N Panikkar, Harsh Mander, Shubha Mudgal, Kamla Bhasin, Saeed Akhtar Mirza.
By Kishore Trivedi on March 11, 2013
It was not a Sunday morning that many editors in the print and electronic media would have liked. For starters, there was to be a Narendra Modi speech, which meant these editors would have to be personally involved in ‘puncturing’ every word Modi said, mere correspondents would do not. Second, the speech was to an audience based in the USA and the biggest shocker was that it was at 6:30 in the morning! The thought of Modi ruining their Sunday morning was high on the mind of every TV channel when they began to cover his speech at the OFBJP programme.
First, the true figures that no media would bother to present. Modi’s interaction with NRI’s was a resounding success. They thronged both the venues at New Jersey and Chicago in large numbers. In fact, there was a severe space crunch to accommodate more people. Millions of people were glued to their TV screens across the US and Canada. Back home, the fact that the speech was on an early Sunday morning did not deter lakhs of netizens to follow it live. Even in the wee hours of Sunday, Twitter was abuzz with excitement over Modi’s speech.
Modi’s speech, by all standards, was path-breaking. Here was a leader who spoke about development and nation-building. No, the audience did not get to know whether his mother cried, or whether someone had told him power was poison or, for that matter, whether the sky was dark or clear at 4 am. Instead, they got to hear about the need to put India first. They were inspired when they heard about Modi’s mantra of One India, Excellent India (Ek Bharat, Sreshtha Bharat) and they went back to their homes assured that here is a man who will take their motherland forward come what may.
Understandably, the success of Modi’s speech in terms of both response and numbers created a Sunday morning headache for TV editors. Clearly, they had their job cut out for the day – demolish Modi’s speech whatever it takes. Their brief was clear – to engage in hair-splitting so that by the end of the day Modi’s speech would be trashed across drawing rooms. What followed was a shameful attempt to misrepresent and create a discourse built not on the strong foundation of facts but the weak premise of lies and personal prejudice.
The first thing the media picked on was Modi’s statement that if Governments made commendable efforts to serve the people, their mistakes would be overlooked. This statement, if viewed objectively, is 100 per cent true. The media, of course, thought otherwise. “People will ‘forgive’ a good Government’s mistake,” is how a headline was titled. Few missed the sarcasm in the tone. Here was Modi talking about the determination of his Government and humbly admitting that being human beings, it is possible some expectation would be left unmet. Yet, the same apologists who do not bat an eyelid before seeking elaborate apologies from Modi were up in arms. So were the non-apologists. Even in a discussion on Governance, the media asked if Modi was sidetracking 2002. Where 2002 came from is a million-dollar question. This ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ approach smacks of nothing but ignorance and misplaced arrogance.
The Congress’s opposition (which has spread on the media) to the statement on performance, mistakes and victory by Modi is understandable when you see that their own Governments win elections without performance, with many mistakes and without ever having to be humble about it and freely discussing the same. Never has Sheila Dikshit apologised for the corruption in Delhi, YSR’s exploits had the backing of 10 Janpath and the DF Government in Maharashtra has broken all records of inefficiency. Thus, ‘if without being humble we can win, why go the hard way?’ thinks the Congress.
Then, in his speech Modi described secularism as ‘India first’. For those editors who swear by an ideology that puts the family first and perhaps Italy second, these words came as hard punches. So they swung into action. “Modi going the Advani way, coining a new term ‘India first’ like Advani’s pseudo-secularism, and mixing nationalism with his agenda” is how a Congress-friendly journo who has authored a biography of the UPA chairperson put it. Some TV channels asked if Modi was changing track and adopting a more ‘tolerant line’!
The icing on the cake came when a Union Minister of State tweeted that Modi had copied ‘India first’ from his Twitter bio (doesn’t matter that he incorrectly wrote my ‘DP Profile’). The phrase ‘India first’ in the context of secularism is not new for Modi. In fact, he has used it back in 2011 and even before.
And finally, they had to drag in Wharton somewhere. A reputed news agency said Modi was addressing NRIs after the ‘Wharton snub’ and that is why he was presenting this softer image. The Indian media deserves the Man Booker Prize. This interaction between Modi and the OFBJP was planned months back. It was to have taken place on January 26 but had to be rescheduled. Where does Wharton come into this?
There is a major protest being planned with speakers across US Cross sections on Free Speech at the same time the event being held on the Wharton campus close to Penn Museum where this event is to take place
We are group of Indian American activists who are concerned with the recent developments in relation to Wharton India Economic Forum and their disinvitation of Narendra Modi. Among us there is NIAC ( http://niac.co ) that recently took high ranking US congress members such Peter Roskam to India to meet leaders such as Modi, our group worked with Indian teams and won recent battle on Electronic Voting Machines to provide paper receipt ( http://SaveIndianDemocracy.org ) by bringing in international experts from Germany, Denmark and US, we initiated a major conference on India Corruption with representatives from UN, Eurodad , Tax Justice Network and elite in India, Dr. Swamy, Kejriwal, Baba Ramadev, Supreme Court Justices (retd) etc ( http://SaveIndiaFromCorruption.org ). Our group includes Wharton alumni, academicians from US.
We are not here to go over the merits of Modi invitation or who is responsible for 2002 riots which is an ongoing debate, but the manner in which Wharton decided to invite a Chief Minister of 50 million people who was elected four times to give key note speech and then dis-invite him based on some petition or even possible pressure from India’s groups. America and its institutions pride itself on free speech, freedom of expression and open to voices of dissent. What kind of example Wharton is setting for its students who are going to be future leaders and entrepreneurs in the nation? This is insult to position of democratically elected Chief Minister of India and to 50 million people from his state who voted him four times to power. The unfortunate irony of all this is even the highest ranking Muslims in India praise Modi’s inclusive growth. Business leaders from all over the world make a beeline to invest in Gujarat state and Wharton being a business school, what kind of relations it is building with it? At a time when India is reeling with massive corruption scandals and India’s corruption ranking is among the lowest in Transparency International rankings, Mr. Modi has shown to the world what India is capable of. Would he not be the best person to speak to Wharton business students and learn from him?
Here is Wall Street Journal poll where out of 5875 polled, 5394 said Wharton made a wrong decision.
Here are links below on what US Congressmen, Ron Somers and many other leaders are saying about this unfortunate incident.
US lawmaker, Congressman, and Ranking member of Subcommittee on Asia Mr. Eni Faleomavaega chides Wharton – http://news.oneindia.in/2013/03/06/support-for-modi-grows-us-lawmaker-chides-wharton-1164907.html
The Economic Times and several Indian mainstream media, Marc 6, 2013, Wharton-Modi controversy unfortunate and disrespectful: USIBC Ron Somers
Huffington Post, The Hijacking of Wharton, Rajeev Malhotra, March 7, 2012 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rajiv-malhotra/the-hijacking-of-wharton_b_2814421.html
Sunday Guardian, Ram Jethmalini, Let truth be known about Modi, March 8, 2012
How Wharton Scored a Huge Self-Goal – Sandeep B
ITBL, Wharton MODIfied…!, March 4, 2013,
Wharton and Modi: Political gamesmanship won over business savvy – Dr Aseem Shukla, Hindu American Foundation http://www.rediff.com/news/column/wharton-and-modi-how-political-gamesmanship-beat-business-savvy/20130306.htm
Fiasco of Modi at Wharton – Rajeev Srinivasan
B-School basics: Why Wharton is wrong in disinviting Narendra Modi – Manish Sabharwal, Wharton Alumni http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-03-05/news/37469757_1_wharton-india-responsible-student-body-wharton-school
Wall Street Journal poll, March 5th, 2013, Out of 5875 polled, 5394 said Wharton made a wrong decision. http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2013/03/05/poll-was-wharton-right-or-wrong-to-revoke-modis-invitation/
News about dropping from the forum by keynote speaker (former Union Minister) and a major sponsor
From The Rediscovery of India Blog: http://www.sandeepweb.com/author/administrator/
March 5, 2013
The most important thing before we begin is to call things by their proper name. One, our clever-by-half media and secularati have twisted the retraction of Wharton School India Economic Forum’s invitation to Narendra Modi as a “snub.” Two, it was Wharton that had invited Modi. Modi hadn’t sought it out.
Two pithy and succinct commentaries nicely sum up this shameful incident. The first is a tweet by Rajiv Malhotra: “Wharton snub of Modi is meddling in Indian democracy. Like Oxford training East India Co. officers. Except now Indian sepoys are professors.” The second is a blog post by Pamela Geller:
American stalwart institutions giving up our most basic freedom to Islamic supremacists, goons and thugs….The loss of our most basic freedoms without firing a shot is stunning.
Wharton’s fault is not so much as cancelling Modi’s invitation but cancelling it in the face of bullying tactics by a handful of fascist bigots that includes both professors and students. With this, Wharton has accomplished two things together: it has demonstrated that it’s no longer a stalwart institution, and it has violated the spirit of the American First Amendment.
Rajiv Malhotra’s point is closer home, and a deeper examination of the folks and forces who orchestrated the invitation-revocation reveals disturbing things.
The first point is that the Government of India is a sponsor to this event. As we note, the Government hasn’t uttered a single word of condemnation against the band of bigots who got Modi’s invitation revoked. As a Constitutionally-elected (thrice) Chief Minister, it becomes the Government’s responsibility to refuse to kowtow to this ragtag group of muckrakers. Whatever the ruling party’s politics at home, it should realize a basic fact when abroad: it needs to strongly condemn people of other countries who try to dictate who gets invited or whose invite gets cancelled. And when such a thing occurs, it needs to unilaterally withdraw from the event on moral grounds. As we see, it hasn’t done so. Why? The simple answer: the current dispensation doesn’t mind being held hostage to a group of virulent Narendra Modi-haters even if it means India’s image abroad takes a beating.
The longer answer lies precisely in the composition and agenda of these Professor-Sepoys. But first, here’s the Facebook group that lists more than 900 people who wanted—and got—the cancellation of Modi’s invitation. What also unites these folks is the fact a whole lot of them supported mercy petitions for the Indian Parliament attack mastermind Afzal Guru, and the Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab who mowed down innocent Indians in cold blood on 26/11/2008 in Mumbai.
But when we distill this group to get to the key players who assiduously worked towards and pulled off this shameful deed, we get the following key names:
Ania Loomba and Suvir Kaul—Professors of English at University of Pennsylvania, they were two of the three professors who kickstarted this free-speech-violating petition.
Toorjo Ghosh—Assistant Professor of English, the third kickstarter. Here’s how he gloats about the cancellation: “It is the result of the pressure that we were able to bring over the organisers… in the last two days. I am very very proud of Wharton as well as the Penn University.” In other words, he’s proud that Wharton and Penn acquiescence in choking free speech and democracy.
Shabnam Hashmi—No surprises here. Owner of the highly communal NGO named ANHAD, she’s been one of the key players in the Gujarat Riots Cottage Industry, and continues to be highly active in demonizing Narendra Modi.
TV18—A sponsor of the IEF. This is the same group that owns the news channel CNN-IBN, headed by Rajdeep Sardesai, a known Modi-baiter. He was also caught with his pants down in that shameful Cash for Votes scandal of 2008.
Adani Group—Another sponsor, which withdrew after Modi’s invite was cancelled.
Indeed, the name of that Facebook group is very telling of the attitude of these academic fascists and the students and others who supported them: Ban Narendra Modi From Speaking At Wharton. A terminology typically representative of the free-speech-hating Left. Nobody is denying them their right to criticize Modi, yet what is their first response when they hear that Modi is invited to speak at Wharton? BAN him, muzzle free speech, and murder democracy. However, something else also becomes clear when we look at a partial list of participants at the IEF:
Javed Akhtar and his wife, Shabana Azmi
Suresh Prabhu (who dropped out after news of Modi)
All of these except Suresh Prabhu are in one way or the other related either to the ruling Congress party or supportive of its brand of twisted secularism. But it doesn’t end there. Here’s what the note sent out by the IEF Organizing team says:
our goal as a team is to provide a neutral platform to encourage cross pollination of ideas as we all work towards contributing to India’s success…We do not endorse any political views and do not support any specific ideology.
I suppose the neutral and “not endors(ing) any political views” part doesn’t apply to Union Minister Milind Deora.
The strident opposition to Narendra Modi stems from two reasons. The first is the obvious desire to push a Leftist agenda that thrives on India-baiting. The second is the string of successes that Narendra Modi has recently achieved beginning with his third consecutive, thumping electoral victory and his massive show-stealer at the BJP National Council in Delhi yesterday. These have decisively set the stage for a larger role in national politics. Except a few motivated folks, nobody has really been able to dispute his stupendous Gujarat Development Story that has consistently delivered quality governance and economic development. This precisely is the fear of the fascist professors and other fellow travellers: a scenario in which Narendra Modi had spoken at Wharton. There’s little doubt that he’d be the undisputed giant in that assemblage of the aforementioned pygmies who simply cannot think beyond spurious secularism and socialist platitudes. Indeed, that cancellation note explicitly records all these achievements of Modi.
Equally, the fact that the fascist pressure group was led by Left academics is also consistent with their decade-long record of Modi-baiting. It’s both symbolic and symptomatic of the rot that pervades almost all humanities departments in universities worldwide. These Left-infiltrated universities actively discourage critical thinking by substituting reason with theory and rhetoric. Be it the Jaipur Literary Festival or the current disgrace at Wharton, we see the same or familiar faces. What business does Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi have in a Business School? And why were they even invited? Which exposes—yet again—another facet common to events where the Left is involved: preying on taxpayer money.
But what’s clear is this: Wharton and indeed, UPenn itself has scored a massive self-goal by giving in to these Left Professors’ bullying tactics. A goldmine of a sponsor like Adani has pulled out. The former Union Minister, Suresh Prabhu has pulled out. And they haven’t taken this lightly. The social media world began to slam Wharton almost as soon as news of the invite cancellation was reported, and the slamming torrent hasn’t abated. More importantly, Narendra Modi doesn’t need Wharton.
We end this with a self-explanatory and highly revealing snippet:
Curiously enough, not a single professor from the Wharton School, one of the most prestigious business schools of the US, which is part of the University of Pennsylvania, was a signatory to this letter.