Wharton Cancellation of Modi Speech amounts to Censure of Open Expression

06 Mar 2013 3198 Views

Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty without freedom of speech.  Benjamin Franklin, Founder& 6th President of University of Pennsylvania.

Global Hindu Heritage Foundation (GHHF) is surprised, saddened, appalled to learn that Wharton School of Business has cancelled the proposed speech on March 23 by Gujarat Chief Minister Honorable Narendra Modi. Hon. MODIdid not request to speak at the Economic Forum.  The Forum requested.  Then only,Mr. Modi agreed.  But, the Forum cancelled without valid reasons due to Taliban assault on Free Speech. 

           It is highly irresponsible on the part of Wharton India Economic Forum.   This terrible decision has undermined the reputation Wharton Schools and University of Pennsylvania.   The potential students from India will be reluctant to consider enrolling at these institutions.  They have insulted India's most respectable son.

We feel that the cancellation is an affront to the freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by many state constitutions also. Let all of us remember the words of Benjamin Franklin on freedom of speech, quoted above.

If Godhra riots is the reason, GHHF requests the Forum's Organizing Committee to examine the true story behind the Godhra riots, false accusations against Mr. Modi, Supreme Court’s absolvent of charges against him, Muslims assessment of Modi’s achievements, and their comfort level to work with him.

We request the Organizing Committee to re-examine their decision and rescind the cancelation and maintain the reputation of the academic institution. The following two statements are not based on true facts:

1) “sordid record proves … Mr. Modi’s callous disregard for the life of Indian citizens and for upholding the Indian constitution.”

2) Recently there have been efforts to whitewash Modi’s grim record and to grant him respectability.

Can any of the three members of the Organizing Committee produce solid evidence to justify the claim of the petitioners?  They have been blinded by of the petitioners. It appears that no faculty member from University of Pennsylvania has signed the petition.   How did the decision was made to cancel Mod's talk?  Did the Committee had any open discussion with groups representing both sides of the views?

University Guidelines on Open Expression says, “The University of Pennsylvania, as a community of scholars, affirms, supports and cherishes the concepts of freedom of thought, inquiry, speech, and lawful assembly. The freedom to experiment, to present and examine alternative data and theories; the freedom to hear, express, and debate various views; and the freedom to voice criticism of existing practices and values are fundamental rights that must be upheld and practiced by the University in a free society.”

Cancellation of Modi's talk is any thing but an open discussion. It is more of a surrendor to Petro dollar influence of left leaning liberal group. It is deliberate hatred, and gutter politics on the part of a few associated with this highly respectable and reputed academic institution.

The aim of the Petition group is to kill an open dialogue, ignore democratic ideals, chill the freedom of speech, and challenge the first amendment of the US constitution.  It is bold attempt support the Islamic terrorism that inflicted on India 23 times over the last six years, promote anti-Hindu sentiments and instigate hatred among Muslims against Hindus.

The organizing committee utterly failed in its responsibility and surrendered to Petitioners version of opinion of Mr. Modiparticularly towards the most tolerant Hindu religion.

Wharton School of Business Organizing Committee should have done a thorough job asking the Petitioners to provide evidence to prove what they were accusing Honorable Narendra Modi of the charges so that a logical, objective and rational judgment could have been made.  Organizing Committee abruptly and without any valid reason cancelling Modi’s speech does not speak well of a reputed faculty members who are supposed to be reasonable, rational and logical.

Obviously the Organizing Committee cancelled because a certain number of Petitioners, believed to be 135, submitted a petition to the committee demanding cancellation of the speech.  Does the Committee know who are these petitioners?  Do all of them are the faculty members and or students of Wharton School or are they people from outside the campus?

Anil Ambani Praises Mr. Modi

Who is this Mr. Modi that the petitioners despise, hate and disdain?

Mr. Modi is a magnet that attracted businesses from all over the world, enticed more than 1200 delegates to the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2013 and radiated hope, truthfulness, freedom, equality, justice and fairness.  Let us see who attended and what they said.

Anil Ambani, who attended Wharton in 1983, is a member of the Board of Overseers at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He described Mr. Modi as “King among Kings.” He further added: "Narendra Bhai has the Arjuna-like clarity of vision and purpose."  He said Modi's skills have "acted as a huge magnet for investors and entrepreneurs from India and across the world in the past decade."  He said, "Narendrabhai Modi dreams with his eyes open, and has an open heart and mind."

Ratan Tata, Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani, Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra, Godrej group chairman Adi Godrej, Reliance ADA Group chairman Anil Ambani, Aditya Birla Group chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla and Essar Group's Shashi Ruia have also attended.

Supreme Court absolved Mr. Modi

We are sorry to read the Petition asking the Organizing Committee to cancel Mr. Narendra Modi's speech via Skype. We feel that these petitioners are all driven by hatred, disdain and bias toward Mr. Modi and guided by people who have no knowledge about the real facts.

Look at these non-verifiable, false accusations against Mr. Modi stated in the Petition:

“We are outraged to learn that the Wharton India Economic Forum has invited Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, to be a keynote speaker at its 17th Economic Forum on March 23, 2013.

              "Since then, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly faulted the Gujarat government led by Modi for failing to prosecute those guilty of the crimes in 2002 and instead prosecuting whistle-blowers and activists who had tried to bring the guilty to justice. In February 2012, the Supreme Court again criticized the Modi government for harassing activists fighting for justice with trumped up charges. What this sordid record proves is Mr. Modi’s callous disregard for the life of Indian citizens and for upholding the Indian constitution."  This is false.

Can you give us the date the Supreme Court faulting the government and criticized him? If that is the case why a Special Investigation Team was appointed by Supreme Court?

Please look at the facts/statements:

1) A Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) said on February 9, 2012 that it has no evidence that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had any role in the 2002 deadly religious riots in the western Indian state, a local court reviewing the report said.

2) "No evidence has been found against any of the 62 accused as per the SIT report," City Magistrate M.S. Bhatt said on local television news channels Tuesday.

3) SIT examined five different speeches given by Mr. Modi and concluded by saying that it established his commitment to punish the guilty and uphold the law.

4) After discussing a number of events, the SIT concluded: “In the light of the aforesaid discussion, the interpretation made on alleged illegal instructions … appear to be without any basis.” Because, “everywhere the genesis and intention was one and the same, i.e., to punish the culprits responsible for the Godhra incident in an exemplary manner, so that such incidents did not recur ever again.”

Can Wharton India Economic Forum dispute the above four facts of evidence provided by Supreme Court of India's appointed SIT?

Why would SIT clear Mr. Modi and absolve all the charges against him, if there is any iota of evidence.

Muslims assessment of Mr. Modi

With total disregard for the facts and absolute disdain for truth, Petitioners shamelessly accused Mr. Modi by saying that his “political success is based on the suppression of substantial sections of their own citizens.” 

We request the Organizing Committee to examine the reality on the ground and find out the assessment of Mr. Modi by the so-called “substantial section” that is Muslims.

Muslim Vote

According to RNB Research, which provided exit poll analysis under the name of Todays Chanakya to Times Now, News24 and ETV News, 21 per cent of Muslims in the state voted for BJP. To anyone who knows the perceived hatred that the Muslims have for Modi, this number is astounding. The research firm, however, has an explanation.

Most of the Muslim voters have rendered their support due to development work in state that helped Muslims and the maintenance of peace and harmony in the state over the last few years. Muslims are indeed better off under Modi than those who use them as mere vote banks.

India Today (December 21, 2012) reports that, “Narendra Modi's hat-trick, besides many other things, also indicates that the Muslims in Gujarat have moved beyond 2002 and are increasingly tilting towards the BJP. In spite of not fielding a single Muslim candidate, the BJP managed 12 out of the 19 seats which had Muslim voters as the determining factor.”

"I voted for the BJP as it was a BJP leader who helped me set up my business," said Saddam Hussein, 22, a resident of Ahmedabad.

"We don't think Modi has intentionally kept Muslims backward," said Shabir Hussain, 42, a staunch Congress supporter.

Survey Results

According to a CNN-IBN survey, published on October 30, 2012 Mr. Modi’s favorable rate is increasing year by year. In 2009, 14 percent of Muslims said they liked Modi; the number has gone up to 26 now. While 44 percent said they never liked him during the general elections, the number came down to 23 per cent in 2012.

Muslim Leaders Open their heart to Modi

Iqbal Keshodwala, one of the leading seafood exporters from Veraval in Saurashtra region was unequivocal in his ratification of Modi . "It is his inclusive politics that the Muslim community in Gujarat has responded to," he said, adding that the community feels let down by the Congress, which has failed to defend the interest of the community in any manner in Gujarat.

"The Congress has always treated Muslims as a block to be exploited politically, but has done nothing in real terms for the community. On the other hand, the community found hope in Modi's inclusive brand of politics," Keshodwala said.

The Siasat Daily (February 18, 2013) reported that Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind general secretary Maulana Mehmood Madani admitted there's a change in the Muslim psyche towards Modi and a section of Muslims had voted for him.

"In Gujarat, Jamiat workers on the ground have told me that in several Assembly segments, Muslims voted for Modi. There is a perceptible change of heart and circumstances are different now. I agree the times are changing. Muslims in Gujarat are economically better off than in several states which have so-called secular governments in power," he told Rahul Kanwal in an exclusive interview on Seedhi Baat.

“This statement from the Jamiat - the political offshoot of Darul Uloom, Deoband, that holds the pulse of millions of Muslims and is the final word in Islamic jurisprudence - is a covert endorsement for Modi in the run-up to his Delhi crowning … The human rights record of several states with secular governments in power is deplorable and the economic situation of Muslims in West Bengal is shocking. These states don't have a Modi at the helm. This is a ground reality we can't ignore," said Madani.

The Economic Times (March 3, 2013) reports that former Vice Chancellor of Darul Uloom Deoband, Ghulam Muhammad Vastanvi today said that, “Muslims should not have any problem if people of the country elects Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as the Prime Minister” when he was asked him about his views about Modi as prime ministerial candidate.

Based on the facts, GHHF requests the Organizing Committee members reconsider their cancelation of Mr. Modi’s speech, rescind the cancellation and invite him with open heart, true to the philosophy of Open discussion as pronounced at University of Pennsylvania.

GHHF Core Team

Prakasarao Velagapudi PhD


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