Skip to main content

Rescind Gates Foundation award to Modi, demand three Nobel Peace laureates

Counterview Desk
In a major boost to those opposing the award to the Gates Foundation’s proposed to be awarded to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, three Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Mairead Maguire (1976), Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (2011) and Shirin Ebadi (2003), have in an open letter called upon Milinda and Bill Gates to withdraw their decision, stating Modi is allegedly involved in human rights violations.
Modi is scheduled to receive the Gates Foundation’s Global Goalkeeper award in New York City on September 24 for this “public sanitation and hygiene” programme, Swacch Bharat, which is claimed to have brought toilets to millions in India. The Nobel Peace laureates’ statement comes amidst increasing number of human rights groups and prominent citizens across the globe begun calling upon Bill and Melinda Gates to rescind the award.
A petition signed by one lakh persons, mainly from South Asia, has asked the Gates Foundation has said that award is “inconsistent to give a humanitarian award to a man whose nickname is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’,” adding, The award could not have come at a more awkward time.”
Pointing out that “Genocide Watch has issued a genocide warning for the Indian held Kashmir and the Indian state of Assam”, the petition states, “In Kashmir, more than 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris detained in their own homes without phones or internet service for the last month, canceled school for students and are blinding protesters with pellet guns.”
It adds, “In Assam, 1.9 million people, mostly Bengali speaking Muslims, have been stripped of their citizenship while Hindus are told not to worry about losing their citizenship.”
The Gates Foundation, on its part, has defended its decision to “honour” Modi "for the progress India is making in improving sanitation" as part of its drive in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, stating, "Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do."
Yet, opposition to the proposed award continues in US. “Democracy Now”, a non-profit news outfit, has quoted well-known Yale University epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves terming the award “outrageous,” insisting, “Bill Gates should be ashamed of himself. Narendra Modi is not worthy of any award. He is a despot-in-the-making, a human rights abuser. Everyone in public health should speak up.”
Broadcasting news across US and Canada, “Democracy Now” has recalled, “Modi was once banned from the United States on charges he did not intervene in a massacre against Muslims in 2002 when he was governor of the Indian state of Gujarat”, adding, “In August, Modi revoked limited autonomy for Indian-administered Kashmir, arresting thousands of people, setting up roadblocks, imposing curfews and cutting off the internet and other communications.”

Text of Nobel Peace laureates’ letter to Milinda and Bill Gates:

We have long been an admirer of the excellent work that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation does worldwide and the way you models philanthropy that effectively supports bettering lives in a sustainable manner.
Milinda and Bill Gates
We are also admirers of the late Mahatma Gandhi and the nation he sought to build – one of respect, tolerance, and equality. Indeed, Gandhi’s ethos is reflected in your organization, as the first message on your website is “All lives have equal value”.
Thus, we were deeply disturbed to discover that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be giving an award to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi later this month. Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights, democracy. This is particularly troubling to us as the stated mission of your foundation is to preserve life and fight inequity.
Consider, for example, the attacks on minorities, specifically Indian Muslims, Christians, and Dalits. Since the BJP, Prime Minister Modi’s party, came to power in 2014, the use of organized mobs to respond to alleged sectarian “offenses” with violence has undermined the rule of law so frequently that the Indian Supreme Court warned that these “horrendous acts of mobocracy cannot be permitted to inundate the law of the land,” according to Human Rights Watch.
The situation in the state of Assam and Indian-administered Kashmir are cause for grave concern as well. The organization “Genocide Watch” has issued not one, but two alerts for India in these regions. In Assam, 1.9 million Indians have been stripped of citizenship; in Kashmir, since August, 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris without phone or internet service for the last month.
Because of these human rights abuses, children in Kashmir from Kindergarten to college are unable to attend school. As one of your organization’s goals is to “ensure that young people survive and thrive,” please consider this statistic: In 2016 (the year the most recent data has been available), schools in Kashmir were open for only four months out of the year.
Finally, scholars inside and outside of India have never cleared Prime Minister Modi of his involvement in the horrific 2002 massacre of Gujarat. As a result, Modi was banned from entering the United States, the UK, and Canada for 10 years until he acquired diplomatic immunity by becoming India’s Prime Minister. To be sure, his role in that crisis as the then Chief Minister of the state of Gujarat cannot be ignored.
In view of these facts – and the overall vision and goals of your Foundation – we respectfully ask that you rescinding your award to Prime Minister Modi. Doing so will send a clear and powerful message that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation takes its aim of equity, justice, and human rights for all seriously – and that it is committed to promoting these values in a consistent fashion.

Comments

TRENDING

Hindutva founders 'borrowed' Nazi, fascist idea of one flag, one leader, one ideology

By Shamsul Islam*
With the unleashing of the reign of terror by the RSS/BJP rulers against working-class, peasant organizations, women organizations, student movements, intellectuals, writers, poets and progressive social/political activists, India also witnessed a series of resistance programmes organized by the pro-people cultural organizations in different parts of the country. My address in some of these programmes is reproduced here... 
***  Before sharing my views on the tasks of artists-writers-intellectuals in the times of fascism, let me briefly define fascism and how it is different from totalitarianism. Totalitarianism is political concept, a dictatorship of an individual, family or group which prohibits opposition in any form, and exercises an extremely high degree of control over public and private life. It is also described as authoritarianism.
Whereas fascism, while retaining all these repressive characteristics, also believes in god-ordained superiority of race, cultur…

Gujarat refusal to observe Maulana Azad's birthday as Education Day 'discriminatory'

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government decision not to celebrate the National Education Day on !monday has gone controversial. Civil society organizations have particularly wondered whether the state government is shying away from the occasion, especially against the backdrop of "deteriorating" level of education in Gujarat.

Congress 'promises' cancellation of Adani power project: Jharkhand elections

Counterview Desk
Pointing out that people's issues take a backseat in Jharkhand's 2019 assembly elections, the state's civil rights organization, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of activists and people’s organisations, has said that political parties have largely ignored in their electoral manifestos the need to implement the fifth schedule of the Constitution in a predominantly tribal district.

Banned? Indian ports 'received' 38 US plastic waste containers reexported from Indonesia

By Rajiv Shah
An Indonesia-based international environmental watchdog group has dug out what it has called “a global pollution shell game”, stating how officials in Indonesia approved re-exports of “illegal” US waste shipments containing plastics mainly to India, as also to other Asian countries -- Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam -- instead of returning them to the US “as promised.”

With RSS around, does India need foreign enemy to undo its democratic-secular fabric?

By Shamsul Islam*
Many well-meaning liberal and secular political analysts are highly perturbed by sectarian policy decisions of RSS/BJP rulers led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, especially after starting his second inning. They are vocal in red-flagging lynching incidents, policies of the Modi government on Kashmir, the National Register of Citizens (NRC), the demand for 'Bharat Ratna' to Savarkar who submitted 6-7 mercy petitions to the British masters (getting remission of 40 years out of 50 years' sentence), and the murder of constitutional norms in Goa, Karnataka and now in Maharashtra.

Ex-World Bank chief economist doubts spurt in India's ease of doing business rank

By Rajiv Shah
This is in continuation of my previous blog where I had quoted from a commentary which top economist Prof Kaushik Basu had written in the New York Times (NYT) a little less than a month ago, on November 6, to be exact. He recalled this article through a tweet on November 29, soon after it was made known that India's growth rate had slumped (officially!) to 4.5%.

Rushdie, Pamuk, 260 writers tell Modi: Aatish episode casts chill on public discourse

Counterview Desk
As many as 260 writers, journalists, artists, academics and activists across the world, including Salman Rushdie, British Indian novelist, Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist and recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature, and Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet and novelist, have called upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi to review the decision to strip British Indian writer Aatish Taseer of his overseas Indian citizenship.

Worrying signs in BJP: Modi, Shah begin 'cold-shouldering' Gujarat CM, party chief

By RK Misra*
The political developments in neighbouring Maharashtra where a Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress government assumed office has had a trickle down effect in Gujarat with both the ruling BJP and the Congress opposition going into revamp mode.

Church in India 'seems to have lost' moral compass of unequivocal support to the poor

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*
In 2017, Pope Francis dedicated a special day, to be observed by the Universal Church, every year, as the ‘World Day of the Poor’. This year it will be observed on November 17 on the theme ‘The hope of the poor shall not perish for ever’; in a message for the day Pope Francis says:

'Discussed' with Modi, Gujarat Rann Sarovar proposal for Kutch runs into rough weather

By Rajiv Shah
Top Saurashtra industrialist Jaysukhbhai Patel’s by now controversial proposal to convert the 4,900 sq km Little Rann of Kutch area, an eco-sensitive zone – a UNESCO biosphere, world’s only wild ass reserve, and a nesting ground of lesser flamingoes – into a huge sweet water lake, called Rann Sarovar, has suffered a major roadblock. At least three Central agencies have expressed serious doubts about its feasibility.