Friday, April 11, 2014

Novelist Salman Rushdie joins academics, artists to say, Modi as PM would "abode ill for India's future"

By Our Representative
Top British writer and author of the controversial novel “Satanic Verses” Salman Rushdie has joined a group 27 prominent individuals, many of them academics and artists based in England, to declare that if Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister of India, “It would bode ill for India's future as a country that cherishes the ideals of inclusion and protection for all its peoples and communities.” In a letter to British daily “The  Guardian”, the letter says, Modi’s ethos is “incompatible” with India’s “secular constitution”.
The letter says, “Without questioning the validity of India's democratic election process, it is crucial to remember the role played by the Modi government in the horrifying events that took place in Gujarat in 2002. The Muslim minority were overwhelmingly the victims of pillage, murder and terror, resulting in the deaths of more than 2,000 men, women and children. Women, in particular, were subjected to brutal acts of violence and were left largely unprotected by the security forces.”
It further said, “Although some members of Narendra Modi's government are now facing trial, Modi himself repeatedly refuses to accept any responsibility or to render an apology. Such a failure of moral character and political ethics on the part of Modi is incompatible with India's secular constitution, which, in advance of many constitutions across the world, is founded on pluralist principles and seeks fair and full representation for minorities.”
The letter has been signed, among others, prefessors at the Harvard University Homi K Bhabha, and Jacqueline Bhabha, ; artists Anish Kapoor, Dayanita Singh, and Vivan Sundaram; film personalities Deepa Mehta, Saeed Mirza, MK Raina, Kumar Shahani, Sashi Kumar and Pragna Patel; members of British parliament Mike Wood, John McDonnell and Fiona Mactaggart; art historian Geeta Kapur; economists Jayati Ghosh, and Prabhat Patnaik; and London School of Economics professors Chetan Bhatt and Gautam Appa.
In a commentary on the letter, “The Guardian” said, the prospect of “the controversial Hindu nationalist politician, becoming the country's prime minister” is not without basis. “Some in India fear a new and tougher cultural climate should the BJP take power. The BJP has its origins in a broad movement which includes groups with a past record of attacking some of the country's most eminent artists. Many were worried by the recent withdrawal by publishers Penguin of a book on Hinduism after legal challenges by rightwing organisations”, it has insisted.
It added, “Modi was chief minister of Gujarat when a fire broke out on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims, killing 59 people. The incident, blamed on local Muslims, sparked widespread rioting across the state in one of the worst outbreaks of sectarian violence in India for decades. Government ministers later told parliament around 1,000 people, largely Muslims, had been murdered by mobs. The dead included three British nationals.”
It further says, “Modi has been accused of failing to stop the violence and even encouraging rioters. He has denied the charges and a series of inquiries have found insufficient evidence to substantiate the accusations against him. One of Modi's close aides has however been convicted along with members of hardline Hindu nationalist groups.”

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