How Modi has the professors of UPenn divided

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, like it has now become evident, incites extreme opinions among Indians spread across the world. The latest proof of it: the furore over the cancellation of Modi's talk at Wharton by the university authorities. However, like everyone else who talks about him, University of Pennsylvania too seems to be divided over the Modi issue. New York Times India Ink recently did two interviews which the faculty of two different departments of the university which show that the politician is as contentious an issue overseas as he is in India.

 How Modi has the professors of UPenn divided

Narendra Modi. Agencies.

NYT first interviewed Ania Loomba, a professor in the Department of English at UPenn and one of the individuals who led the movement against Modi's address at the university.

Loomba, explains that letting Modi address the Wharton economic conclave would amount to letting him 'sanitize' his government's records and erase the blots of the 2002 communal riots his government failed to control -  and claimed over 1,000 lives.

New York Times quotes Loomba:

"We are firmly opposed to any attempt to de-link development from human rights: the kinds of atrocities minority communities suffered and continue to suffer in Gujarat are not neatly separable from economic development."

However, Loomba's fellow professor in the university, Aseem R. Shukla, an associate professor of surgery at The Perelman School of Medicine, found little merit in Loomba's argument in another NYT interview.

Shukla said that the decision to cancel Modi's visit went against the liberal policies of the university. He cited the case of severely anti-Israel speakers being given a platform to talk at the university.

According to Shukla, "The university insulted legions of Indians and Indian-Americans who, while not necessarily supporting Mr. Modi as a politician, have confidence in India’s democracy and judiciary."

Seems like Modi has UPenn divided too.

Read the interview with Loomba here and the interview with Shukla here.

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Updated Date: Mar 13, 2013 14:18:33 IST