Gujarat Riots lead Dark spot on Modi's Image : US academics urge Silicon Valley to be cautious

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Gujarat Riots has lead Dark Spot in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s image, one leading US Academics has urged the investors of Silicon Valley to be cautious while dealing with the Modi govt. This recommendation has been signed by many persons of Indian Origin too. And many of the signatories include top professors and law-makers of US.

Digital India initiative has hinged into the vein after this letter. Despite repeated efforts of Prime Minister, not answering the questions on Gujarat 2002 riots have left a dark spot in his image which led such result. Akeel Bilgrami who is an Indian-born philosopher and now at Columbia University is one of the top signatories on this paper.

akeel

The full text of the letter which was made public in lieu of Narendra Modi’s Digital India campaign is

As faculty who engage South Asia in our research and teaching, we write to express our concerns about the uncritical fanfare being generated over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley to promote ‘Digital India’ on September 27, 2015.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Silicon Valley highlights the role of a country that has contributed much to the growth and development of Silicon Valley industries, and builds on this legacy in extending American business collaboration and partnerships with India. However, Indian entrepreneurial success also brings with it key responsibilities and obligations with regard to the forms of e-governance envisioned by ‘Digital India’.

We are concerned that the project’s potential for increased transparency in bureaucratic dealings with people is threatened by its lack of safeguards about privacy of information, and thus its potential for abuse. As it stands, ‘Digital India’ seems to ignore key questions raised in India by critics concerned about the collection of personal information and the near certainty that such digital systems will be used to enhance surveillance and repress the constitutionally-protected rights of citizens. These issues are being discussed energetically in public in India and abroad. Those who live and work in Silicon Valley have a particular responsibility to demand that the government of India factor these critical concerns into its planning for digital futures.

We acknowledge that Narendra Modi, as Prime Minister of a country that has contributed much to the growth and development of Silicon Valley industries, has the right to visit the United States, and to seek American business collaboration and partnerships with India. However, as educators who pay particular attention to history, we remind Mr. Modi’s audiences of the powerful reasons for him being denied the right to enter the U.S. from 2005-2014, for there is still an active case in Indian courts that questions his role in the Gujarat violence of 2002 when 1,000 died. Modi’s first year in office as the Prime Minister of India includes well-publicized episodes of censorship and harassment of those critical of his policies, bans and restrictions on NGOs leading to a constriction of the space of civic engagement, ongoing violations of religious freedom, and a steady impingement on the independence of the judiciary.

Under Mr Modi’s tenure as Prime Minister, academic freedom is also at risk: foreign scholars have been denied entry to India to attend international conferences, there has been interference with the governance of top Indian universities and academic institutions such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, the Indian Institutes of Technology and Nalanda University; as well as underqualified or incompetent key appointments made to the Indian Council of Historical Research, the Film and Television Institute of India, and the National Book Trust. A proposed bill to bring the Indian Institutes of Management under direct control of government is also worrisome. These alarming trends require that we, as educators, remain vigilant not only about modes of e-governance in India but about the political future of the country.

We urge those who lead Silicon Valley technology enterprises to be mindful of not violating their own codes of corporate responsibility when conducting business with a government which has, on several occasions already, demonstrated its disregard for human rights and civil liberties, as well as the autonomy of educational and cultural institutions. 

And the signatories of this letter were

  1. Meena Alexander, Distinguished Professor of English, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York
  2. Arjun Appadurai, Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University
  3. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, UC Santa Cruz
  4. Fredrick Asher, Professor of Art History and South Asian Studies, University of Minnesota
  5. Paola Bacchetta, Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies University of California, Berkeley
  6. Sarada Balagopalan, Associate Professor of Childhood Studies, Rutgers University, Camden
  7. Radhika Balakrishnan, Prof of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  8. Shahzad Bashir, Professor of Religious Studies, Stanford University
  9. Manu Bhagavan, Professor of History and Human Rights, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, The City University of New York
  10. Mona Bhan Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology DePauw University
  11. Srimati Basu, Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies, University of Kentucky
  12. Prashant Bharadwaj, Associate Professor of Economics, University of California, San Diego
  13. Nilanjana Bhattacharjya, Faculty Fellow, Barrett Honors College, Arizona State University
  14. Nandini Bhattacharya, Professor of English, Texas A &M University, College- Station
  15. Tithi Bhattacharya, Associate Professor of South Asian History, Purdue University
  16. Amit R. Baishya, Assistant Professor of English, University of Oklahoma
  17. Akeel Bilgrami, Sidney Morgenbesser Professor of Philosophy and Director, South Asian Institute, Columbia University
  18. Purnima Bose, Associate Professor, English and International Studies, Indiana University-Bloomington
  19. Christopher Candland, Associate Professor of Political Science, Wellesley College
  20. Paula Chakravartty, Associate Professor, Gallatin School, & Department of Media, Culture and Communication, New York University
  21. Shefali Chandra, Associate Professor of South Asian History Washington University, St. Louis
  22. S. Charusheela, Associate Professor, School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, Bothell
  23. Partha Chatterjee, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Columbia University
  24. Indrani Chatterjee Professor of History and South Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin
  25. Swati Chattopadhyay Professor History of Art and Architecture, University of California, Santa Barbara
  26. Marty Chen, School of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School and Affiliated Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Design
  27. Rohit Chopra, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University
  28. Elora Chowdhury Associate Professor & Chair, Women’s and Gender Studies, University of Massachusetts, Boston
  29. E. Valentine Daniel, Professor of Anthropology, Colombia University
  30. Monisha Das Gupta, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies, University of Hawaii, Manoa
  31. Jigna Desai, Professor of Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies, University of Minnesota
  32. Pawan Dhingra, Professor of Sociology, Tufts University
  33. Wendy Doniger, Professor of the History of Religions, University of Chicago
  34. Richard Falk, Professor of International Law Emeritus, Princeton University
  35. Bishnupriya Ghosh, Professor of English University of California, Santa Barbara
  36. Huma Ahmed-Ghosh, Professor and Chair of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University
  37. Durba Ghosh, Associate Professor of History, Cornell University
  38. Sumanth Gopinath, Associate Professor of Music Theory, School of Music, University of Minnesota
  39. Nitin Govil, Associate Professor of Cinema & Media Studies, University of Southern California
  40. Paul Greenough, Professor of History and Community and Behavioral Health and Director, South Asian Studies Program, University of Iowa
  41. Inderpal Grewal, Professor of South Asian Studies, Yale University
  42. Sumit Guha, Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor of History, University of Texas, Austin
  43. Thomas Blom Hansen, Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Center for South Asia, Stanford University
  44. Syed Akbar Hyder, Associate Professor of South Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin
  45. Nalini Iyer, Professor of English, Seattle University
  46. Priya Jaikumar, Associate Professor of Cinema and Media Studies, University of Southern California
  47. Pranav Jani, Associate Professor of English, Ohio State University
  48. Sheila Jasanoff, Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government
  49. Arun W. Jones, Associate Professor, Candler School of Theology, Emory University
  50. May Joseph, Professor of Social Science, Pratt Institute
  51. Priya Joshi, Associate Professor of English and Associate Director, Center for the Humanities, Temple University
  52. Sampath Kannan, Henry Salvatore Professor of Computer and Information Science, University of Pennsylvania
  53. Suvir Kaul, A.M. Rosenthal Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania Waqas Khwaja, Professor of English, Agnes Scott College
  54. Naveeda Khan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Johns Hopkins University
  55. Nyla Ali Khan, Visiting Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Oklahoma, Norman
  56. Satish Kolluri, Associate Professor of Communications, Pace University
  57. Ruby Lal, Professor of Middle East and South Asian Studies, Emory University
  58. Sarah Lamb, Professor of Anthropology and Head of the Division of Social Sciences, Brandeis University; Co-Chair of South Asian Studies
  59. Karen Leonard, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of California, Irvine
  60. David Lelyveld, Professor of History, Emeritus, William Paterson University
  61. Jinee Lokaneeta, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Relations, Drew University
  62. Ania Loomba, Catherine Bryson Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania
  63. David Ludden, Professor of History, New York University
  64. Ritty Lukose, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and South Asian Studies, the Gallatin School, New York University
  65. Sudhir Mahadevan Assistant Professor of Film Studies, Comparative Literature, Cinema and Media, University of Washington, Seattle
  66. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Global Justice Seattle University School of Law
  67. Sunaina Maira, Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis
  68. Bakirathi Mani, Associate Professor of English Literature, Swarthmore College
  69. Rebecca J. Manring, Associate Professor of India Studies and Religious Studies Indiana University-Bloomington
  70. Monika Mehta, Associate Professor, Department of English, Binghamton University
  71. Jisha Menon, Assistant Professor of Theatre and Performance Studies, Stanford University
  72. Kalyani Devaki Menon, Associate Professor of Religious Studies, DePaul University
  73. Sally Engle Merry, Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University
  74. Raza Mir, Professor of Management, Cotsakos College of Business, William Paterson University
  75. Deepti Misri, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies University of Colorado, Boulder
  76. Chandra Talpade Mohanty, Chair and Distinguished Professor of Women’s & Gender Studies, and Dean’s Professor of Humanities, Syracuse University
  77. Satya P. Mohanty, Professor of English, Cornell University
  78. Megan Moodie, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz
  79. Projit B. Mukharji, Martin Meyerson Assistant Professor in Interdisciplinary Studies, History & Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania
  80. Madhavi Murty, Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California, Santa Cruz
  81. Vijaya Nagarajan, Associate Professor of Theology & Religious Studies, Program in Environmental Studies, University of San Francisco
  82. Gyanendra Pandey, Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of History, Emory University
  83. Carla Petievich, Visiting Professor of South Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin
  84. Sheldon Pollock, Professor of South Asian Studies, Columbia University Kavita Philip, Associate Professor of History, University of California, Irvine
  85. Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History, Trinity College
  86. Jasbir K. Puar, Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University
  87. Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Professor of Law and Development, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  88. R. Radhakrishnan, Chancellor’s Professor of English and Comparative Literature, University of California, Irvine
  89. Gloria Raheja, Professor of Anthropology, University of Minnesota
  90. Junaid Rana, Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
  91. Anupama Rao, Professor of Anthropology, Barnard College
  92. Velcheru Narayana Rao, Distinguished Visiting Professor of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, Emory University
  93. Kasturi Ray, Associate Professor of Women and Gender Studies/Co-Director, South Asian Studies, San Francisco State University
  94. M.V. Ramana, Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University Sumathi Ramaswamy, Professor of History, Duke University
  95. Chandan Reddy, Associate Professor of English, University of Washington, Seattle
  96. Gayatri Reddy, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Illinois, Chicago
  97. Parama Roy, Professor of English, University of California, Davis
  98. Sharmila Rudrappa, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin
  99. G.S. Sahota, Assistant Professor of Literature, University of California, Santa Cruz
  100. Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies & Professor of History, Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Arizona State University
  101. Arun Saldanha, Associate Professor of Geography, Environment and Society University of Minnesota
  102. Juned Shaikh, Assistant Professor of History, University of California, Santa Cruz
  103. Nitasha Tamar Sharma, Charles Deering McCormick Professor of Teaching Excellence and Associate Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies, Northwestern University
  104. Elora Shehabuddin, Associate Professor of Humanities and Political Science, Rice University
  105. Bhaskar Sarkar, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, University of California, Santa Barbara
  106. Priya Satia, Associate Professor of History, Stanford University
  107. Aradhana Sharma, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Wesleyan University
  108. Snehal Shinghavi, Associate Professor of English and South Asian Studies, University of Texas, Austin
  109. Ajay Skaria, Professor of History, University of Minnesota
  110. Shalini Shankar, Chair and Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, Northwestern University
  111. S. Shankar, Professor of English, University of Hawai’i at Mānoa Amritjit Singh, Langston Hughes Professor of English, Ohio University
  112. Mytheli Sreenivas, Associate Professor of History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Ohio State University
  113. Rajini Srikanth, Professor, English, University of Massachusetts Boston Nidhi Srinivas, Associate Professor of Nonprofit Management, The New School
  114. Ajantha Subramanian, Professor of Anthropology and South Asian Studies, Harvard University
  115. Banu Subramaniam, Professor, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  116. Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Chicago
  117. Raja Swamy, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Tennessee Tariq Thachil, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Yale University
  118. Ashwini Tambe, Associate Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Maryland, College-Park
  119. Vamsi Vakulabharanam, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
  120. Jyotnsa Vaid, Professor of Psychology, Texas A&M University
  121. Sylvia Vatuk, Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, University of Illinois, Chicago
  122. Kamala Visweswaran, Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego
  123. Kalindi Vora, Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies, University of California, San Diego
  124. Bonnie Zare, Professor of Gender & Women’s Studies, University of Wyoming

With inputs from scroll.in

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