Monday, July 14, 2008

US IS RIGHT ON MODI

The US has eroded its credibility on human rights but on Narendra Modi the State Department has got it right. The credit for it goes to a few strident advocacy groups.

It is now highly unlikely that Modi bhai will visit Uncle Sam this year, simply because he won't get a visa.


Modi was invited for the World Gujarati Conference in New Jersey in August. But even before he could apply for a visa advocacy groups in the US and Canada uniting under the banner of 'Coalition Against Genocide' (CAG) wrote to the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice saying, "We urge the State Department not to allow Mr.Modi to enter the country under any conditions, as the circumstances under which he was denied a visa in 2005 remain largely unchanged, and the minority communities in his state continue to face systematic human rights violations."


In 2005 the State Department denied him a diplomatic visa because the purpose of his visit was not deemed to be so. They also revoked his tourist and business visa and Modi had to end up addressing an NRI gathering via video link. CAG had also been busy on other fronts. They lobbied Chris Matthews, TV anchor for MSNBC's 'Hardball', to decline from speaking at a convention where Modi was the chief guest. Sponsor 'American Express' also pulled out.


The CAG's plea has been backed by a US government agency, the Commission on International Religious Freedom which also urged the State Department to "reaffirm its past decision." Commission chair Felice D. Gaer said, "As official bodies of the government of India have found, Narendra Modi is culpable for the egregious and systematic human rights abuses wrought against thousands of India's Muslims. Mr. Modi must demonstrate to the State Department and to the American people why he – as a person found to have aided and abetted gross violations of human rights, including religious freedom – should now be eligible for a tourist visa."


This is the right question to ask a man who has been entirely unrepentant and who has unfortunately gone unpunished in India. Modi may yet scoff defiantly at these words but they should also tell him that Newton's third law of motion, which he so infamously quoted after the riots, is back to bite him.


Meanwhile, Modi's popularity with certain NRI groups reflects poorly on them. Economic development and administrative efficiency are often invoked as a justification for their support. But this argument makes serious mockery of the word "development" when people can be lynched and raped on the streets of Gujarat and no justice is done to them six years later. These admirers of Modi should in fact use their proximity to pressure him to apologise for what happened.


In the US some people conflate criticism of Israel with being anti-Semitic. Similarly conflating criticism of Modi with being anti-Gujarati or anti-Hindu has become a popular way to abuse those who seek accountability for 2002. But any rational person will tell you the difference.


Also, jaded arguments about Modi being "democratically elected" do not concede that he has not been made to answer for his culpability in the riots.


So till his friends in the US and elsewhere confront him on his complicity in 2002 their support will be morally suspect.


Meanwhile the US administration is right in taking a tough line. And for those fighting against his hateful, communal brand of politics this is a shot in the arm. These symbolic snubs will have to suffice for now till real action can someday be taken.


Published on the NDTV.com website on July 14th, 2008.

10 comments:

Sathej said...

Well, his actions may have prompted such a stand to be taken. But this shouldn't become a precedence for the US to play around with visa-allotments. And am not very comfortable with the fact that the US could take its own position on an issue that is largely national. On a similar note, how appropriate would it be if India started denying entry to those responsible for the grossly misadventurous Iraq and Afghanistan expeditions? Having said that, my views are not to justify the riots, but am just asking if the US is indeed justified in playing the 'goody-goody' role here.
Sathej

Arif Suhale said...

Hi:
Fact: India needs the US more than the US needs India at this point in time and perhaps for a foreseeable future (at-least economically speaking).

“Economic development and administrative efficiency are often invoked as a justification for their support.”

I believe Hitler’s Germany had similar efficiencies.

“Modi may yet scoff defiantly at these words but they should also tell him that Newton's third law of motion, which he so infamously quoted after the riots, is back to bite him.”

I think this something that he will continue to face and I hope the US does not grant him entry until he has the courage to stand up in public and apologize to the meek and indefensible.

“But this argument makes serious mockery of the word "development" when people can be lynched and raped on the streets of Gujarat and no justice is done to them six years later.”

Delivery of justice is one of the reasons India is ranked low in this category internationally. The people of India have failed here and hence should be held complicit to this crime in my humble opinion.


Arif

Alaphia said...

Sathej, the US has the right to deny a visa to anyone it wants to keep out. It would be perfectly appropriate for India to do the same. Is the US justified in this role? Like I say, it has eroded its credibility on human rights, but I believe they showed the commitment to take a stand, something no other country did, and they are right this time.

Arif, I agree with your assessment.

Sathej said...

Hmm..what you say is true.But somehow, certain points don't go down too well with me - issues like the US acting seemingly more responsible in this case. Anyway, I guess such issues require a larger debate with a range of views examined.
Sathej

quizmaniac said...

Modi does not need a certificate from you about governance. Go to gujarat to see the results.Americans are known for there dirty work. Modi is much better leader than bush and CO. This Article is really one-sided.

Alaphia said...

Quizmaniac,
I'm afraid I cannot commend your observation or comprehension skills. This piece is an Op-Ed and therefore makes no claims to being a neutral report and it is not about his governance. And as for your larger point about going to Gujarat to see the results. Yawn.. old, old argument that misses the point.

san said...

I see that Alaphia Zoyab is quite a communal person, seeking to surround themselves in a mutual admiration society of fellow communalists.

Alaphia said...

San - As I say to many people who stop by at my blog - restrict your comments to arguments made in the article.

Ezhil said...

That was one brave article! I'm tired of the "development" argument, Murder your brothers n sisters but it is okay if you "develop" urself in the process, scary! US, for that matter any other country shd never let him into their land, it can only happen in India that someone who systematically murdered thousands of innocent people could go scotfree, above all continue to rule the very land!

Alaphia said...

Thank you Ezhil. This point of view is rarely appreciated.