India / Nobel winners ask Bill Gates Foundation to revoke PM Modi's award

The Quint : Sep 22, 2019, 09:56 PM

Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire, Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman and Shirin Ebadi have written to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation expressing their objection to presenting the Global Goalkeeper Award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, India has descended into dangerous and deadly chaos that has consistently undermined human rights, democracy.”

They pointed that since the BJP has come to power, there have been consistent attacks on minorities - Dalits, Muslims, Christians. “The use of organised mobs to respond to alleged sectarian ‘offences’ with violence has undermined the rule of law,” the letter read.

They wrote that Modi’s regime brought about a communication blackout in Kashmir, Assam NRC where 1.9 million Indians have been stripped of citizenship, and 2002 Gujarat riots, which are reasons good enough for the foundation to rescind their award to Modi.

Talking about the riots, the letter read, “Modi was banned from entering the United States, the UK and Canada for 10 years until he acquired diplomatic immunity by becoming India's Prime Minister.”

The laureates appreciated the work by the foundation for improving the lives of many people in a sustainable manners and expressed admiration for Mahatma Gandhi for the way he built India. And so, they insisted that it was necessary to not give out this award and send out a powerful message that ‘Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation takes its aim of equity, justice, and human rights for all seriously.’

Meanwhile, Gates Cambridge scholars and alumni condemned the foundation for lauding PM Modi for the Swachh Bharat Mission, saying “ignoring the gross violation of human rights under his regime is reprehensible.”

“At the time of writing this letter, there are seven million Kashmiris under military siege lasting for over 40 days. Several media sources have reported on the inhuman conditions in the state, including house arrests, detentions, humiliation, and complete isolation of Kashmiris,” read the plea. They even pointed at the prime minister’s silence regarding “the rise of Hindu nationalist sentiments and consequent violence against minorities in the country”.

Talking about the Swachh Bharat Mission, the group wrote that these are ‘only diversionary tactics, reliant in large measure on media publicity rather than social change.’

“Ramon Magasaysay Awardee and founder of Safai Karamchari Andolan (SKA or the Sanitation Workers’ Movement), Bezwada Wilson, has condemned the Swacch Bharat Mission for its disregard of institutional discrimination against Dalits and their deaths from manual scavenging. He says, ‘Toilet construction will not help us and will, in fact, push us back into manual scavenging, unless the entire exercise is mechanised and well thought out with proper planning,’” read the letter.