Why Wharton Canceled Narendra Modi’s Speech

The rejection by Wharton might only be a small irritant in the grand scheme of the Indian chief minister's political ascension, but it highlights how radioactive he remains

  • Share
  • Read Later
Sanjeev Verma / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi addresses the audience during the last day of the Party National Council Meeting in New Delhi on March 3, 2013

Narendra Modi, chief minister of the western Indian state of Gujarat, is no stranger to controversy. In 2002, anti-Muslim riots in Gujarat caused the deaths of over a thousand people. Modi and his administration were accused of standing idly by as the carnage was perpetrated — an allegation that he and other officials have steadfastly denied. In recent years, Modi has built a reputation as a can-do leader who has made Gujarat a business-friendly economic powerhouse. Now, Modi is even spoken of as the flag bearer of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in national elections next year. If the BJP win, Modi could even become Prime Minister.

Yet his past continues to dog him. On Monday, the Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF), an annual India-centric conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, canceled the keynote address Modi was invited to give later this month, via videoconference. His speech was opposed by several Indian-American professors, who gathered more than 200 signatures to stop the event. “Our team felt that the potential polarizing reactions from subsegments of the alumni base, student body and our supporters might put Mr. Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs, especially in the spirit of our conference’s purpose,” the WIEF organizing committee said in a statement.

(MORE: Is Narendra Modi a Step Closer to Being India’s Next Prime Minister?)

It’s not the first time Modi, 62, has encountered friction overseas. In 2005 the U.S. State Department refused him a diplomatic visa to enter the country. The E.U., as a bloc, also blocked him from visiting its member nations. Germany and Britain have now lifted their ban, but the U.S. has yet to revise its policy. “We cannot give platforms to people who have violated so many human rights while being in power,” Ania Loomba, a Penn English professor and one of the petitioners, tells TIME. “It’s shocking that Indian students at Wharton feel that someone who is one of the most controversial figures in India should be invited to celebrate India’s ‘development’ and economic success.”

The turn of events didn’t surprise many in India, where Modi has many detractors. Last month he faced protests when he delivered a speech at New Delhi’s prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce. His efforts to portray himself as secular and progressive, with a focus on “propeople good governance,” have been questioned by critics, who dismiss it as a public relations exercise. In Gujarat, however, Modi is a hero. The state boasts India’s lowest unemployment rate, and billions of dollars in investment are flowing in. Many Indian as well as foreign business leaders consistently praise him.

(MORE: Why Narendra Modi Is India’s Most Loved and Loathed Politician)

The rejection by Wharton might only be a small irritant in the grand scheme of Modi’s political ascension, but it highlights how radioactive he remains. “Owing to a certain kind of populist initiative, Modi could possibly become a national leader,” says Shiv Visvanathan, a social scientist with New Delhi’s Jindal School of Government and Public Policy. “But he still has a long way to go, both within the BJP and the nation, to achieve that.”

MORE: Narendra Modi and the TIME 100: Even an Online Poll Sparks Controversy

83 comments
shanecullen
shanecullen

"Wharton" didn't cancel, the University did at the willingness of other Penn professors who don't like Modi, the vast majority of which are not Wharton professors. The title is misleading and the content is sloppy. 

manishitnp
manishitnp

Author of this article is really insane. we indians knoe it very well that only Narendra Modi can save our country. anti national party (INC) is trying to defame him

Swati
Swati

Time journalist has hardly done any homework before writing this article. Or she is thoroughly biased against Modi. His past does not haunt him, it is Congress/ anti-India elements who simply want to defame him. Indian voters know Modi's past is what makes him even more powerful and respectful.. Even a child in India today knows the truth - Modi is what India needs. 

Krishna
Krishna

This is simply a third grade article. You have not mentioned the Supreme court verdict. This article is liable to legal actions for defamation and spreading lies. He is cleanest guy with an economic vision which is all inclusive. 

And ofcourse in your next article you will term us as Internet Hindus and saffron brigade and what not? We, the center-right have facts against your opinions of wine-sipping left liberals. Why don't you have a civilized argument based on facts? Why do you have to resort to the subtle manipulation by playing word games.

Your article is in direct violation of the sanctity of the Supreme court of India

jaycdp
jaycdp

As a mater of fact it is the bashing of him, which provided opportunities in way he was able to prove them who he really is. He himself provided a million road for his opponent to use tooth and nail as much as they want. By doing this he managed to let his opponent come to blind assumption and slowly he killed them all with silver bullet. besides, his basher's did not realize they themselves playing a devils advocate and proving themselves as helpless and thereby feeding them back with full of negative satisfaction.

shenoydiva
shenoydiva

Nilanjana Bhowmick seems already a biased writer rather than a objective writer when it comes to Narendra Modi. Such writers do not contribute to both sides of the story, rather resort to Modi bashing.

RPrasad
RPrasad

Every western media mention only half truths when it comes to Modi or his party BJP. I wonder whether the western media knows anything in India or simply they have outsourced this to corrupt Indian media. 

For example, they report about 2002 Gujarat riots that have erupted spontaneously when a Muslim mob at Godhra railway station torched a compartment full of Hindu pilgrims with women and children. The compartment was locked from outside and almost 79 Hindu pilgrims were burned alive. Why Time and other western media fail to  report this?

The riots followed after this where both Hindus and Muslims were killed in hundreds. Then why they only mention Muslim victims, but not Hindus?

After these riots, there was not even a single riot in Gujarat just like there was not another terrorist strike after 9/11 in US. But there were riots and Terrorist strikes repeatedly in India other than Gujarat. Because Modi is an able administrator and honest. 

The Communist sympathetic Indian media is always opposed to Modi just like it is opposed to US. Time is going with the same Communist media?

dbcube
dbcube

Dear times, sorry to say that i am not agress with your article. not because i admire narendra modi but i respect times. please don't said about '2002 riot' and you are wrong on ' Modi and his administration were accused of standing idly'

if 2002 riot is idly by government the what would you say about 9/11

Yaatri123
Yaatri123

The Supreme Court of India, after an intensive investigation, did not find anything illegal that Gujarat State Chief Minister Modi, a three time popularly elected leader, did or did not do in spite of the  dynastic and powerful Sonia Gandhi and her Congress party in power at Center throwing all they could against Modi. The Supreme Court of India is a whole lot more credible than a bunch of politically motivated English and Sociology professors at Wharton. At the minimum U. of Penn. President should launch an investigation if the University policies were severely compromised. Ironically Modi appears to have gained more sympathy from this fiasco, quite evident from all the responses on this as well as other news sites.

Time Magazine failed to cite the Indian Supreme Court judgement in this article, an apology of omission is expected from Time's editorial staff.



amitkhandelwal.it
amitkhandelwal.it

I am also disappointed with TIME. Poorly researched article. It has failed to provide unbiased analysis. There is no case against Mr. Modi. The Special invitation team set by Supreme Court of India, has already given clean chit to him. Media trials and allegation cannot convict him. These allegations are politically motivated.

vicharak
vicharak

I am very disappointed that Time has fallen to the lowest level of journalism. This article is prejudiced and one sided. It If it was not an agenda based one, it would have mentioned that Modi was never charge with any crime, that an investigative body appointed by India's highest court did not find any wrongdoing by Mr. Modi, that Mr. Modi has been thrice elected democratically by people of his state, that he has set an example as a non-corrupt, non-nonsense, able administrator, that Many Muslims have voted for him. But then, the whole premise of this yellow journalism would have collapsed.

rahul.ahuja100
rahul.ahuja100

India will become Super Power under dynamic leadership of Narendra Modi ji and that is the big reason why USA is afraid of Modi .

NaliniFadke
NaliniFadke

An  Anarchist Marxist   M/s  Annia Loomba ,An Anarchist Maoist of Naxal terrorist community Toorjo Ghosh  has shown how easily, the well trained communists can get  to usa  and plant themselves inside the US institutions and as  communist are programmed to do destroy them from Inside out.

Wharton school and Penn will never recover in India from the destruction of Brand and Value of Judgement, and a morality of Brand.How gullible and Stupid Gutmann can be, not knowing about pattern of Paid Journalism in India.

Modi is one leader who on strength of Character and Clean and Transparent  image,and above all the development of social and industrial base has developed the International  Brand Modi

MobyDick
MobyDick

Indians see themselves as Global Super powers. Everyone says that Hollywood does not represent the real America, well in India its 10000x worse with Bollywood.
Indians are brought up to believe that they invented everything and Gandhi single handedly brought down the British Raj. Nothing to do with WW – II.

varun.nagpaal
varun.nagpaal

Her article is biased in every sense. She just doesn't care to mention why Wharton decided to invite Modi in first place and not any other Indian Chief Minister in first place ?  Neither did she spoke about Modi has been elected thrice as Chief Minister of Gujarat state. Thirdly, she has not even mentioned that Modi has not been charged or proved guilty by all possible courts in India.  What about the American free speech madam ? I am sorry that a magazine like Time hosts such opinionated, biased and possibly paid journalists who paints a one-sided picture. As one gentleman noted, many authors who write biased articles are indeed Bengali leftists. Even some of the professors who lead  the petition against Modi were Bengali leftists. I couldn't stop myself from noting that Ms. Nilanjana Bhowmick is possibly a leftist journalist

UdayanSingh
UdayanSingh

I have noticed that majority of the writers in Anti-Modi articles is a Bengali - irrespective of the news-paper or website. This has been my observation after reading many articles over several years. There is a pattern here. India has been a country generally supportive of USA but by mocking a democratically elected representative ( won with nearly 50% people in the state voting for him / his political party ) I sense that a deep sense of distrust is developing in Indians towards USA. USA caring for Muslims can be taken with a pinch of salt. There is a deeper conspiracy in USA against Mr.Modi possibly their CIA stooges are in power within Indian government.

dbcube
dbcube

dear time, why didn't you mention that supreme court of india proved him innocent?  do you think indian judicial system is just a jock in rule of opposition party of narendra modi?

EvilDevil
EvilDevil

"Modi and his administration were accused of standing idly by as the carnage was perpetrated"

 Accused of?

desainishit
desainishit

Radioactive? Really? Ms. Bhawmick you should concentrate first of using terms in right context before writing articles. Modi and most of the Indians least cares about whether he will get a freakin' US visa or not. Who cares? Did he even ask for a visa? Did he go to wharton seeking invitation? 

Mehta
Mehta

Why did no one try to get signatures in favour of Modi? I am sure there would have been 2000 signatories in favour of his invitation as against   200 opposing. Where is democracy?

rcdesai2001
rcdesai2001

It is shameful for the students to give in to such fundamentalist mentality of pseudo secular persons blocking free speech. What is the use of studying in a prestigious school when you insult a democratically elected leader of Indian state by inviting him then cancelling the invitation ? It is moral cowardice !

ahampc
ahampc

It is a same the prestigious school like Wharton has come under political pressurre and have taken steps are very sameful.

What do you know about Honorable Mr. Modi? He is modern Gandhi to save India.  Go to india and go to State of Gujarat. he is elected of

one of the prosperous state in India under his leadership. I am quite disappointed and hurt by this diecision and the school must apololizt to shree Modiji   

A true American of Indian origin who is seeking Truth

c_ontrarian
c_ontrarian

Author says - "Modi and his administration were accused of standing idly by as the carnage was perpetrated"

A simple Wikipedia search will reveal Police dealt with the riots with a very strong hand, about 180 rioters were killed due to Police firing, and about 20 thousand people were arrested by the police during the course of riot control, so the allegation of omission is nothing but Goebbelsian propaganda not supported by facts, Supreme Court directed probe has vindicated that.
It's also important to go through the history of communal riots in not just in India but entire South Asia, the sub continent has a history of riots like the Moplah rebellion, Direct Action of 1947, Nellie, 1984, Mumbai 1992, Bhagalpur to name just a few, couple of months back there were riots in Assam & a couple of days back in Bengal. Point to be noted is that in none of those riots was the police found to have taken tough action, anybody getting killed due to police action, people getting arrested in large numbers or rioters getting prosecuted and convicted in those riots is unheard of, whereas dozens of rioters have been sentenced to death or life sentences and close to a hundred people have been convicted which is unprecedented, in all previous riots and also those followed, the rioters generally went scot free probably encouraging them to repeat their acts. There have been more convictions in Gujarat Riots than all other riots put together since independence from Britain, and this is significant.
It should also be noted that the Gujarat riot started after 59 people travelling by train were burned to death which included several women and Children for no fault of theirs and Army deployed in border areas during Op Parakram had to be summoned to control the riots.
India had to endure so many riots because of the diverse population to begin with, such diversity is not known in any part of the world, what we have in some places is just token diversity.

jitenvalecha
jitenvalecha

Wharton behaving as a third world university. Is first amendment dead or can be used by only chosen few?

Anil
Anil

The way Mr Modi is being targeted- I will not be surprised if all this opposition boomerang and polarize the electorate in- for Modi and against Modi type of elections. If that were to be allowed to happen, then Congress is playing a big gamble. One thing must be clear to all- majority hindu voter is not happy (though it has not found voice so far) with the appeasement of minorities at their cost- policy of  all political parties.

ananjagowder
ananjagowder

@dbcube It means that the American government was watching the incident idly.

ananjagowder
ananjagowder

@Yaatri123 the english and generally the west do not apology unless they gain something materially.

ananjagowder
ananjagowder

@amitkhandelwal.it Mr.Modi has come to save India which was in the hands of the MAFIA.Why don't people understand this!we have seen enough of scams in our life.the 2G,COAL GATE,COMMONWEALTH GAMES and what not,all perpetrated by the CONgressMen and the women at the Centre.Those who still support the CONgress will have to do a rethinking about the country and not about themselves and their families.I do not care about their families while crores of INDIANS are finding it difficult to find their next meal.




RaviPG
RaviPG

@amitkhandelwal.it Can you name any politician of significance who has been successfully sued and put in jail for aiding and abetting violence against minorities, e.g. Muslims in 1993 and 2002, and Sikhs in 1984? The Indian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International cannot all be always wrong. 

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@vicharak What do U expect from TIME.  They clearly have an Anti-India policy.  Anything good about India is projected in a different colour by TIME as negative.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@MobyDick Mahatma Gandhi is the father of Nation.  Because he was the prime leader of the Independence Struggle in the early 20th Century.  But the War of Independence started prior to 1850s.  The first War could be planned in 1857 which wasn't a great success.  Then we have many other kinds of revolts against the British.  The entire country and each and every citizen of the country was a soldier to compel British to leave India.

Now about inventing everything, we don't believe we've invented everything.  Yes, ZERO was invented in India by an Indian Mathematician.  That's where the progressive numbering system and Decimal System have originated from.  

Just to mention an example, recently CHINA requested the translation of some of the chapters from Vedic Literature where in they found some crucial inventions about Aviation.  

Science has always been clubbed with believes and customs and festivals to make people follow it since time immemorial in India, which Western Civilizations have been trashing for many years now, and finally discovering the importance of those same things through research.

dbcube
dbcube

@varun.nagpaal  

 good one. i hope times will not lost their creditability. we all respect times but by reading this kind of article on times sending wrong signal.  

dbcube
dbcube

@UdayanSingh  

 good point..  need to think in this direction. one way usa  don't wont terrorist. and other way terrorist supported congress get support from usa.

 

ananjagowder
ananjagowder

@ahampc there is something i would like to tell you americans about your history.the land that you occupied is not yours and you decimated the original inhabitants  and called it yours.and to do your dirty work you smuggled AFRICANS(ALEX HAILY) into the newfound land.and there was a time when a person from one state could kill someone and escape the authorities by smuggling himself to another state. that was america.read history man.Especially ALEX HAILY( though he was challenged by another person for having stolen his idea in writing the book,and a compromise was reached out of court and settled).that is beside the point.what good have the americans did to the welfare of the people in general.for that matter i ask the same question to the russians (Communists) except to divide the world between brothers.Is this governance.No.but selfishness.i am a little bit selfish.i want my country INDIA to be self sufficient without the help of any outside help.I am sure we can do it provided the present government under the leadership of Mr.Modi takes the right steps.we have the resources and we need to tap them and not harp on religious sentiments.after all we are all INDIANS and we would like to be INDIANS and called as INDIANS.JAI HIND.

dbcube
dbcube

@RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it  

can you tell me in indian history opposition party has appointed sit and didn't found any thing wrong? pl.reply..

 

inform.srijith
inform.srijith

@RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it So, your idea about narendra modi's involvement is proved to be on suspicions. If you think NaMo is guilty, bt Muslims in Gujarat don't think that way. They have started supporting him. They have now Muslim flags with saffron background. That shows their commitment to Modi.

amitkhandelwal.it
amitkhandelwal.it

@RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it

So you more believe in allegations rather Supreme Court of India. So who should be doing investigation and convict a  person... you or i or Media? Media never talk about Riot-2012 in ASSAM and riots in Rajasthan and UP. We must  agree on a point that Killing of Innocent can no be tolerated. Culprit should be booked and punished. But trial should be fair and logical. You can not target a person for 10 years just  for political benefits.  There is no violence in Gujarat for last 10 years. Whereas other states  have continuously been involve in abetting violence for their politically gains.   Gujarat is only state where NaMo allowed fair investigation for riot victims. 

http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/08/31/maya-kodnani-gujarat-verdict-idINDEE87U07P20120831


RaviPG
RaviPG

@NandaKishoreN @varun.nagpaal Wake up and smell the coffee! Why must any criticism of India be viewed as the work of a traitor. Aamir's Satyamevjayate showed how rotten India's social and political system has become. Is he too a traitor? Even if Modi is good, he belongs to a wrong party, a party whose leader led and eventually oversaw the destruction of Babri Masjid. BJP leaders are a bunch of loonies running around the country like headless chicken, making a lot of noise and doing nothing to further the case of India's development. I am sure Congress leaders are equally bad. Until we accept that India has serious problems we cannot move ahead. India has buried its head under sand like an ostrich for too long!!

RaviPG
RaviPG

@inform.srijith @RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it  Even if Modi is good, regrettably he belongs to a wrong party, a party that carries a lot of negative baggage of trying to destroy India's unitity in the past. In persuading BJP leaders to accept him as their leader at the national level he will need to make a significant number of "quid pro quo" deals with them, which will render his government impotent at the national level.


Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/03/05/why-wharton-canceled-narendra-modis-speech/#ixzz2OTAnIN1m

dbcube
dbcube

@RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it  

dear you are wrong or you have misinformation. 2002 riot was started by few congress people. please find the truth. it is supress due to bombing of secular media of india.  again i don't wan't you to prove wrong but i want to aware with fact. this is my humble responsibility.


amitkhandelwal.it
amitkhandelwal.it

@RaviPG @amitkhandelwal.it Yes, I agree that all political parties are similar in India. Other parties are even worst in their track record and other parties ensure that there should be case or  no conviction in their cases. Whereas NaMo is failed to so and allowed fair trials  Which is not acceptable in Indian politics.Rather then discussing logically, Media and politician do more believe in mud-slinging. Every buddy must be agree that first religion is humanity. Person beliefs are secondary. Religion tags should not matter in national welfare. Honest should be primary attribute. But i am disappointed with all on this. lets come to point...Modi is victim of political propaganda. I read the article shared by you.....just sharing few lines from it. See below.


"In April 2009, the Special Investigation Team (SIT) setup by theSupreme Court of Indiato investigate and expedite the Gujarat riot cases submitted before the Court thatTeesta Setalvadhad cooked up cases of violence to spice up the incidents. The SIT which is headed by former CBI director, R. K. Raghavan has said that false witnesses were tutored to give evidence about imaginary incidents by Setalvad and other NGOs.[179]The SIT charged her of “cooking up macabre tales of killings”.[180][181]

The court was told that 22 witnesses, who had submitted identical affidavits before various courts relating to riot incidents, were questioned by SIT and it was found that the witnesses had not actually witnessed the incidents and they were tutored and the affidavits were handed over to them by Setalvad.[180]

The report which was brought to the notice of the bench, consisting of JusticesArijit Pasayat, P Sathasivam and Aftab Alam, noted that the much publicised case of a pregnant Muslim woman Kausar Banu being gangraped by a mob and foetus being removed from sharp weapons, was also cooked up and false."

RaviPG
RaviPG

@amitkhandelwal.it @RaviPG The 2002 riots took place on Mr. Modi's watch. One of his ministers was found guilty as the above report points out. Did he do the respectable act of resigning? No!

Also, he is associated with BJP that has a long history of conducting acts of provocation against Muslims. We should not forget that it was L.K. Advani. the then leader of BJP who undertook Hindutva Yatra that culminated in the destruction of Babri mosque. Advani was present at the scene. He was found guilty of aiding and abetting the fundamentalist Hindus in this heinous act by a commission of inquiry. Was he put in jail? Quite the contrary! Subsequently, Advani became deputy prime minister when BJP won elections. It was a miserable spectacle to watch him - the deputy prime minister of the largest democracy in the world - going virtually on his knees begging an almost senile Shankaracharya of Ayodhya to case building a temple at the site of the mosque in question in contempt of the Supreme Court ban. BJP is the wrong party to lead India.

Please stop condoning acts of violence in Gujarat just because they happen in other provinces of India as well. The sad fact about India is there is no law and order in the country. Sadly, leaders  of all parties consider themselves above the law. The citizens just emulate what their leaders do. Yes, Gujarat has done economically well in the past decade. So did Hitler's Nazi Germany for several years before WW2. In addition to causing destruction of Europe, it was under Hitler's watch that 6 million Jews were sent to gas chambers. No country can achieve sustained growth unless the party leading it is totally secular. Unfortunately, BJP is not that party.

You may want to read the following article for a more balanced view of Gujarat violence:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2002_Gujarat_violence