Saturday, August 05, 2006

Two gutsy academics protest against Narendra Modi

Ram Guha on the protest by two gutsy professors from IIT-Madras:

The speech Modi was delivering in Chennai was part of a further ‘mainstreaming’ of his image, part of the somewhat successful attempt to make the English-speaking middle class forget his role in the riots of 2002 by re-presenting himself as an efficient administrator and engineer of economic growth. ... [T]he IIT Chennai meeting — hosted by the foundation named for and started by the eminent scientist, M.S. Swaminathan — was intended to further a technical mission to make ‘Every Village a Knowledge Centre’. Before Modi could speak, two women went up to the stage and held up a placard which read: “Mr Modi, We disapprove”. Later, they told a reporter that “we came to protest his government’s policies. He could not stop the Gujarat communal riots, his handling of the Narmada dam issue is deplorable, and recently he stopped the screening of the Hindi film Fanaa”.


... [I] ... believe that what Enakshi Bhattacharya and Nandita DasGupta did at Chennai last week was salutary. It was also very brave — for unlike the typical left-wing protestor, they could not seek the anonymity of the crowd, and had much to lose — namely, a career that was hard-won as well as highly prized.

As the elected chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi has a right to be present at meetings organized by the Union government or public sector institutions. However, when it comes to meetings hosted by private or autonomous institutions, an invitation to Modi is a privilege, to be gifted or withdrawn as per the courtesy of the host. These have to judge not just his office, but also his record in office. And that includes not just his collusion in — some would say active sponsorship of — the riots of 2002, but also his continuing attempts to stifle the free expression of opinion in his state, as in the last illustration offered by the two IIT ladies — the shocking ban on the film Fanaa, enforced because one of its actors thinks that those displaced by the Sardar Sarovar dam should be decently rehabilitated.

The link to the Telegraph story on this 'incident' is here.

* * *

Thanks to Pradeepkumar for the link to Guha's column.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Can you pl. check. The first and last links do not seem to be working for me. it is possible that it may be a problem with my computer. Thanks.

  2. Abi said...

    Swarup: Both those links are to the Telegraph website. They are working for me now, though I too had some problems with them at the time of writing the post.

  3. Anonymous said...

    It requires guts to place placards against Modi in Chennai land? News to me. It would however require guts to oppose reservations publicly as one would face strict disciplinary action and possible manhandling by police.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Great going for these Profs.
    Some time ago, I think some
    other women led, among others,
    by Nafisa Ali also protested
    NMs appearance in Delhi.
    Proves women have more gumption
    than men.

    However, there is something
    totally offensive about the
    way Guha writes. He never
    seems to want to lose an
    opportunity to bash those
    who take up important tasks.
    What was the need to bash
    "typical left-wingers"?
    And who cares whether or not
    he is an honorary half-Bengali?
    He should stick to being a
    cricket writer.

  5. Anonymous said...

    Maybe just a real (as opposed to honorary)

  6. Abi said...

    Anon 1: Yes, Guha tends to bring himself into his articles more often these days ['honorary Bengali'!]. BTW, even his cricket writing is not much different. Take a look at this piece!

    He also seems to suffer from "if I blame the right on something, I have to blame the left too" syndrome (e.g., the Castro-at-JNU reference in his article).

    The two examples you gave exemplify these trends.

    At the same time, we have to admit that he is the lone pundit with a column about this incident.

  7. Unknown said...

    What guts he is talking about? Did any one oppose Mr.Rajiv Gandhi after the Anti-Sikh riots, I don’t think so. Because they don’t have the guts, All these people are opposing Mr.Modi because he a BJP CM, First punish the people who are responsible for the Anti-Sikh riots. I am not saying that what happened in Gurajat was a good thing, but why is Mr.Modi is targeted like this giving an impression that nothing like this have happened in India like this before