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Voices of Protest Against The Move By Financial Times Group To Confer An Award on Narendra Modi

A Compilation Letters and Articles

by sacw.net, 3 September 2009

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sacw.net

[The following letter was sent to Financial Times but remained unpublished]

Letter To the Financial Times Group,

London

31st August 2009,

Sir,

It was shocking to hear that a publication associated with the Financial Times Group has chosen to confer an award on Narendra Modi, when it is widely known that he was complicit in and personally responsible for the communal carnage that occurred in Gujarat in 2002, when some two thousand people were butchered. Indeed, it has just been revealed by a senior leader of his party (the BJP) that the then Prime Minister of the country Atal Bihari Vajpayee was keen to see Modi resign as Chief Minister of Gujarat, so upset was he by the horrific violence unfolding before him! In view of the substantial evidence that exists against Modi for his complicity in India’s worst instance of violence against minorities, we the undersigned urge you to cancel this award as a thoroughly inappropriate and ill-conceived gesture that can only damage the reputation of the Financial Times.

Ritwik Agrawal
- Jairus Banaji
- Amit Bhaduri
- Praful Bidwai
- Terence Byres
- Dolores Chew
- Partho Datta
- Sonya Ghosh
- Vrinda Grover
- Barbara Harriss-White
- Shabnam Hashmi
- Rohini Hensman
- Sonia Jabbar
- Harsh Kapoor
- Mukul Kesavan
- Sushil Khanna
- Jens Lerche
- Alessandra Mezzadri
- Prabhu Mohapatra
- Mritiunjoy Mohanty
- David Mosse
- Deb Mukharji
- Ashis Nandy
- Kavita Panjabi
- Anjum Rajabali
- Aseem Shrivastava
- Vinay Shukla
- Dilip Simeon
- Ira Singh
- Subir Sinha
- Pritam Singh
- Rashmi Varma

Letter to Marjorie Scardino, CEO of the Pearson Group, which owns the FT group, which owns FDI magazine. As some of you may know from media coverage, FDI just anointed Narendra Modi "Asian Personality of the Year 2009." So much for that.

[September 1, 2009]

Dear Marjorie Scardino,

We are writing to inform you of what we consider a shocking action taken by one of the publications under the Pearson Group umbrella, an action that begs for your attention. The magazine FDI, of the Financial Times Group, has selected Narendra Modi, the chief minister of the Indian state of Gujarat as its Asian Personality of the Year (2009). This award gives Mr. Modi, whose human rights’ reputation is most troubling, a huge boost of legitimacy where he deserves none. We thought it important that you, as Chief Executive Officer of Pearson Group and as someone associated with organizations that work hard to promote peace and security, including the MacArthur Foundation, know of the damage to FDI’s credibility, and thus to the Pearson Group, this award has caused.

India’s National Commission on Human Rights as well as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demonstrated the responsibility of Mr. Modi and the government he continues to head for a pogrom against Muslim citizens in his state in 2002 that left some 2,000 men, women and children dead and several hundred thousand citizens homeless. (See the Human Rights Watch report "We Have No Orders to Save You" http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2002/04/30/we-have-no-orders-save-you). On the basis of these and other reports, the U. S. government denied Mr. Modi a visa to visit the United States in 2005. The United States Commission on Religious Freedom subsequently recommended that he be denied a visa when he applied for one again in 2008, at which point Mr. Modi withdrew his application.

In terms of Mr. Modi’s financial leadership, FDI magazine seems to have missed the many stories that show how despite the consistently high claims about foreign direct investment into Gujarat, the economy has failed to deliver any significant improvement in the lives of the majority of the people who live there. From 1996 to 2006, despite all the hullabaloo about the economic miracle Modi engineered, Gujarat’s position in India’s human development index actually fell in the categories of education, health, child mortality, infant mortality and in the weight of children. Moreover, and this is relevant to the award, the 2002 pogrom led by Modi had a direct effect on investment in Gujarat, which fell from 14.45% of all investment capital in 1995 to 8.78% in 2002, and by 2005 to 7.67%. In addition, one should bear in mind that less than 21% of the memoranda of understanding signed by the Modi government have been acted upon. There is a lot of unexamined fraud involved in the way the MOUs have been taken at face value. Writing in Mint, the Wall Street Journal’s publication in India, Salil Tripathi notes: "It is odd, therefore, to credit Modi with Gujarat’s vibrancy. And it is hard not to blame his government for the colossal failure to protect civilians during the anti-Muslim violence in 2002." The entire piece bears reading: http://www.livemint.com/2009/01/21220308/The-real-Modi-story.html

Given the above, we are naturally stunned with FDI’s decision to confer upon Narendra Modi, of all people, the Asian Personality of Award of 2009.

We are fully confident that you had no role in this decision. But we hope that you will, in your capacity as CEO of the Pearson Group and as someone whose presence on the board of the MacArthur Foundation indicates you to be someone dedicated to high ethical standards, take immediate action to insure that this award is rescinded and a public statement of regret is made by the responsible publication.

Sincerely,

Mira Kamdar
- Vijay Prashad
- Mallika Sarabhai

cc. Robert Galluchi, President, MacArthur Foundation.

From: Sukla Sen
- Date: Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 12:30 AM
- Subject: An Open Letter of Protest against Proposed ’FDI Asian Personality
of the Year 2009’ for Mr. Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat (India)
- To: courtney.fingar at ft.com
- Cc: web.newdelhi at fco.gov.uk

To
- Ms. Courtney Fingar,
- Editor, the FDI Magazine
- <courtney.fingar at ft.com>

Cc:
- The British High Commissioner
- <web.newdelhi at fco.gov.uk>

Dear Madam,

It has been reported in the media that Mr. Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister
of Gujarat (India), has been chosen for being conferred the ’FDI Asian
Personality of the Year 2009’ award by the FDI Magazine of the Financial
Times (FT) group.

Your attention, in this context, needs be drawn to the fact that as the
Chief Minister of Gujarat, Mr Modi, in February-March 2002, had presided
over one of the worst communal carnages in post-Independence India. No less than the Indian Supreme Court, for that reason, had compared him with the Emperor Nero. And various international human rights organisations including the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch held him directly responsible for the gory mob violence in which hundreds of Muslims were killed, looted and raped. Even the National Human Rights Commission of India, a government body, strongly castigated him. He is at the moment under investigation for his role by an investigation team specially constituted by the Supreme Court of India, as per its express directive.

Not only that, even today over a large number families of Internally
Displaced Muslims, the victims of 2002 communal carnage, live in
rehabilitation colonies built by NGOs as they have not been allowed to
return to their villages by their tormentors enjoying state patronage.

Under the impact of consequent public outcry, the US government cancelled
his visa in March 2005 and his planned trip to London, as recently as in May
2009, for the “India Summit 2009” had to be dropped.

The reported decision to confer him with the award is highly disturbing, and
also puzzling, in that specific context.

It must be pointed out that it would help to legitimise his political career
and records symbolising and promoting the politics of sectarian hatred and
violence of the worst kind.

In view of the above, you are urged to forthwith drop your reported plan to
honour Mr. Modi for that would, in a way, make you complicit in his horrific
crimes against humanity and irreparably damage your own credibility.

May kindly oblige.

Yours sincerely,

Sukla Sen

EKTA (Committee for Communal Amity), Mumbai, India.

counterpunch.org, September 2, 2009

Narendra Modi’s Fanatic Heart

Hey Ram, the Things the Financial Times Group Does!

by Vijay Prashad

A city, burning
- Smoke billowing through the holes
- Spreading into every eye
- Every dream.

— Adil Mansuri (1936-2008).

Things are at a bad pass for the Indian far right. Its political party, the BJP, is in disarray. At their last "chintan baithak," (introspection meeting) in Simla, the leadership went at each other for their poor showing in the general election earlier this year. Expulsion followed expulsion, as formerly revered men and women were found guilty of one kind of infraction or another. A book by a former head-man of the party, Jaswant Singh (one time foreign minister and close confidant of Strobe Talbott), on Pakistan’s "father of the nation" Mohammed Ali Jinnah provided the opportunity for more blood letting. Singh gave credence to what the history profession already knew (from Ayesha Jalal’s useful biography of Jinnah), which is that Jinnah was hardly the clownish bigot so carefully portrayed in Richard Attenborough’s Greatest Hits of Gandhi (1983). Singh was shown the door. The Hindu right cut its teeth singing songs against Jinnah. He was always the "bad Muslim." There are not many "good Muslims" in the Hindu Right’s cosmos.

With Jaswant Singh went Sudheendra Kulkarni, onetime Leftist and journalist turned intellectual bagman for the Hindu Right’s leader, L. K. Advani. A few days later, another former journalist who had done so much to burnish the credentials of the Hindu Right, Arun Shourie, went apoplectic on a television show. He accused the rump leadership of ineffectiveness, and went so far as to quote Mao, asking the cadre to "bombard the headquarters." In the party of the far right, a call to arms is not made lightly. The fellows often take the thinkers seriously. Fortunately, Shourie’s writ runs in the chattering classes alone, and they were too busy locking up the silver to rush out and throw candelabra at the BJP’s citadel. Shourie is the former Minister for Disinvestment, a surreal post whose portfolio was blocked by massive protests. He was discomforted by the current boss, Rajnath Singh, whom he called Alice in Blunderland. Nothing in the ideology of the far right came under criticism from him, or from others who were on the way out.

The RSS, which operates as a sort of Reichsleitung (party directorate) of the Hindu Right, hastily tried to take charge of the collapse of its parliamentary arm. Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsangchalak or headman of the RSS, told a press conference that the BJP would "rise from the ashes," an indication of how bad things had become for the movement. BJP leaders rushed to the RSS headquarters to get the blessings of Bhagwat and to prove their Saffron bonafides. Gujarat’s Chief Minister Narendra Modi played a crucial role at the Simla introspection meeting. Some accused his prime ministerial ambitions of scuttling the BJP’s electoral chances in this go-around. Modi has a terrible reputation as an extremist of the far right, which gives pause to a population that was fortunately distracted by matters of the stomach to concentrate on jingoism. The murmurs of the BJP dissidents were not taken lightly. Modi is ambitious and has built a strong following among both the RSS and the party’s base. They like his clarity: no wavering from the hard right’s aversion to Muslims. Few contemporary politicians in India have their face on t-shirts. Modi is the far right’s Obama.

As all this transpired before the television cameras, the investigative moles of the Indian State gathered up their paperwork and went before various high and supreme courts, seeking permission to open an investigation against Modi. In April, Mrs. Zakia Jafri, whose husband Congress Member of Parliament Ahsan Jafri was killed in cold blood during the pogrom of 2002, and human rights activist Teesta Setalvad moved the Supreme Court to investigate the Modi government. In June, the Court ordered the Special Investigation Team (SIT) to "take steps as required by Law." The wheels of justice had finally been wiped of their rust. The BJP tried to stop the process in the Gujarat High Court, but the state court declined and moved the SIT to continue its work (which would include the registration of a First Information Report against those whom it would accuse, including, perhaps the Chief Minister, Narendra Modi). There is ample evidence of Modi’s role in that pogrom, engineered as it was by his state apparatus and party (Human Rights Watch has a very clear report on this, chillingly called We Have No Orders to Save You, 2002). Two thousand people were killed in this state-engineered campaign. A virtuous police officer, Rahul Sharma, at the Ahmedabad police control room taped the calls coming from local Hindu right leaders to the Chief Ministers’ office during the heat of the riot. Modi is said to have egged them on. Now the government has finally taken notice. The boiling oil of legality was set to pour on Modi.

To divert attention from all this, Modi went ahead and banned the book on Jinnah written by his erstwhile comrade-in-arms (or put together by him; my teacher, C. M. Naim wrote a piece in the Indian Express showing several instances of plagiarism). Once expelled from the BJP, Jaswant Singh has let loose. He revealed that after the Gujarat pogrom some in the BJP leadership wanted to remove Modi. They were overruled at that time. Modi had too much support in the party, and besides his views had been given credence by the BJP’s then leader, Atal Bihari Vajpayee (on April 12, 2002, when the pogroms fires had only just begun to simmer, Vajpayee told a gathering in Goa, that Muslims, all Muslims, "tend not to live in co-existence with others, not to mingle with others, and instead of propagating their ideas in a peaceful manner, they want to spread their faith by resorting to terror and threats" - this is the sort of rude ideology of the far right, shared by its most eloquent and well-regarded leader, Vajpayee). Singh tried to hide behind Vajpayee in this, saying that the grand old leader had been distressed by the Gujarat massacres. No such evidence was given in public. At any rate, Singh’s breach of faith could not be tolerated. Modi struck back by banning the book in his state. The Supreme Court stepped in to prevent the banning, just as the RSS chief Bhagwat is to be in Gujarat to discuss the book and the fallout with Modi. The nadir for Modi is on the horizon.

Personality of the Year

Then comes FDI magazine, a five year old publication devoted to foreign direct investment and owned by the Financial Times’s parent company, the Pearson Group. Its editor, Courtney Fingar points out that her magazine investigates "issues that concern foreign investors," talks to "leading corporate executives and government leaders" and highlights "the many opportunities and risks that await investors around the world." It is a classic corporate magazine, little of interest to the general reader, a pretence of real journalism when it is actually filled with corporate and governmental press releases transcribed into better English. For that, FDI provides a real service.

As part of the press release culture, FDI picked Narendra Modi as the Asian Personality of 2009, citing in particular that he had attracted $2.8 billion in foreign direct investment to Gujarat (10.3% of the total FDI coming into India). This was in late August, just as the proverbial you-know-what hit the fan in the chief minister’s Gandhinagar residence. The FDI tribute was a boon to Modi. It was a nice way to take the spotlight off the 2002 investigations. The magazine is either ignorant of Modi’s checkered career, or else some mischief is afoot. It is probably the former. After all, in a manner of speaking, Modi makes the trains run on time.

What is remarkable about this award is that the Financial Times, the flagship of the Group, itself took Modi to pieces after the pogrom. Edward Luce, who was then the FT’s man in India and later wrote a very thoughtful book about India (In Spite of the Gods: the strange rise of India, 2007), put his case in a long piece on July 4, 2003 called "Faith, Caste and Poverty." Luce didn’t hold back. When the BJP began its ascent in 1990, its leader L. K. Advani went on a national tour to garner support. Modi was his Gujarat man, and when Advani sailed through the state, Modi ran the organization, which included "a trail of anti-Muslim violence wherever [Advani’s cavalcade] went." Calling Modi "India’s most hardline Hindu nationalist," Luce described the 2002 pogrom which took the lives of 2000 Muslims and which cleansed Ahmedabad of 800,000 Muslim residents. "The riots followed a ruthlessly well-organized pattern," Luce continued, "Armed with electoral rolls, mobs moved from one Muslim locality to another." He quoted from Dr. Hanif Lakdawala, "They raped the women and the children. Then they poured kerosene down their throats and set them on fire. Their male relatives were forced to watch. Afterwards they were killed as well." The police stood down. So did the other arms of the State. Luce went and interviewed Modi. When asked about the riots and the refugees, he prevaricated: "Your question is very loaded," or "That is a myth peddled by vested interests," or indeed, "Your question is factually incorrect."

Courtney Fingar could have read this article on the FT’s website, where it is easily available, or else read the section in Luce’s book called "The Imaginary Horse." It would have been instructive. She might even have run a quick google search and discovered that this is not yesterday’s news, but that the SIT investigation is set to go ahead and revisit the events that Luce so vividly described in the FT. Modi was denied a visa to enter the United States in 2005. This is remarkable, given how licentious the State Department is with visas to mass murderers who are otherwise given over to neoliberal capitalism. When Modi wanted to visit the US once more in 2008, the US Commission on Religious Freedom put the kibosh on the visit. He withdrew his application. It says a lot about the degeneration of standards at a magazine owned by a mainstream media conglomerate, with all the resources at its disposal, that it still wants to associate itself with a man widely regarded as responsible for leading the destruction of Gujarati society.

Then there is the small matter of how magazines like FDI calculate foreign direct investment. They typically look at the Memorandums of Understanding, which are often signed with a lot of hoopla and are not always acted upon. In fact, the MoUs signed by the government of Gujarat have only been acted upon 21% of the time (and a significant number of MoUs are written between government agencies). Modi likes to talk big about Gujarat’s economic development. Robert Kaplan did a cozy interview with him for the Atlantic Monthly ("India’s New Face," April 2009) in which he did not deviate from the script. Kaplan went over the complaints about Modi, the comparisons with Hitler for example, and concluded, that Modi is really "part CEO with prodigious management abilities, part rabble-rouser with a fierce ideological following." Modi wanted to talk about development, ducking questions about the 2002 riots. Kaplan ends his piece hoping that this "managerial genius" would pull it together, get rid of the extremism and inhabit his business side. But Luce had questioned that earlier, pointing out that Modi is not responsible for Gujarat’s take-off in the early 1990s. He simply took credit for it.

A few years ago, journalists Dionne Bunsha (for Frontline) and Salil Tripathi (for The Mint) went over the economic evidence and concluded, independently, that Modi is bad for business. In 1995, Gujarat drew in 14.5% of all foreign investment coming into India. Modi became Chief Minister in 2001. In 2002, the rate of investment dropped to 8.78% and then by 2005 it went to 7.67%. Tripathi joined Luce’s doubts, writing, "The sobering reality is that Gujarat had the lead in 1995 which it lost after the [2002] violence, and is trying to regain its erstwhile pre-eminent position. The fundamentals to attract investments-industrial peace, great infrastructure and ancillary industries-preceded Modi’s tenure. The Narmada dams were already under construction, workers polished diamonds in Palanpur, petrochemicals and cars were made in Vadodara, milk flowed from Anand, yarn churned out in Hazira and a refinery was being built in Jamnagar, much before Modi took office. Gujarat’s rural prosperity is substantially, though not entirely, due to significant remittances from overseas Gujaratis." Human development figures for Gujarat are abysmal, with little improvement during Modi’s tenure.

Even the business community recognized this. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) offered its complaints in 2002. Three CEOs, Airfreight’s Cyrus Guzder, HDFC’s Deepak Parekh and Thermax’s Anu Agha went public with their criticisms. But hastily Gujarat’s business community stood behind Modi, afraid, in many ways, that any less than this would put them into a difficult position. At a Confederation meeting in 2003, historian Jairus Banaji questioned Modi for his blather on corporate governance, when justice was denied to the Muslims of Gujarat. "Why does the CII give credibility to a politician who has blood on his hands," Banaji asked. When others wanted Banaji thrown out of the gala, Modi stopped them. He offered his defense and then, in speaking of the transparency in his state, smirked, "An individual can check where his file is taking a rest." The barons of Indian industry smiled and apologized to Modi. In October 2002, a few industrialists formed the Group of American Businesses in Gujarat to promote their interests. Industry Minister Suresh Mehta addressed the founding meeting of this group, created to "re-brand" Gujarat after the 2002 pogrom. "Some doubts have been created in foreign countries," said Mehta, as the group’s Vice Chairman Kaushal Mehta (CEO of Motif) noted, that industrialists would have to "create brand awareness about Gujarat in US." FDI magazine has helped the Group of American Businesses in Gujarat "rebrand" Modi.

The head of the Pearson Group, which owns the Financial Times and FDI is Dame Marjorie Scardino. She also sits on the board of the MacArthur Foundation, which is devoted to peace and security. Mira Kamdar and I drafted a letter to her, asking her to act against this atrocity. I’m sure Edward Luce feels the same way as us, and certainly much of the newsroom of the Financial Times must be appalled. Hundreds of people have signed on to the letter which we sent to Dame Scardino. Modi thrives on this kind of naïve publicity. He must not be allowed to get away with it. Within a few hours of the email campaign and our letter to Dame Scardino, we got an email from Courtney Fingar. The FDI has found a way to nuzzle out of a fix. They now say that "the criteria of the award has always remained focused on rewarding a region in attracting foreign investment." This could not have been all that clear, because Fingar also wrote, "FDI has also decided to highlight the geographic regions of all the other winners." Now Gujarat will get the award, not Modi. This is something. But not enough. Modi will still take credit for this. He should not be allowed to do so.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His new book is The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, New York: The New Press, 2007, which was chosen for the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Award, 2009. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad at trincoll.edu

From: Ayesha Imam at yahoo.com>
- To: courtney.fingar at ft.com
- Sent: Saturday, September 5, 2009 10:12:22 AM
- Subject: FDI award: Gujarat: "success" at any price?

Dear Ms. Fingar

FDI Award: Gujarat : "Success" at any price?

Thank you for your message in response to my earlier letter.

I welcome FDI Magazine’s decision to withdraw its award of "FDI Asian Personality of the Year 2009" from Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat.

Your email clarified that the criteria of the award will now focus on ‘rewarding the success of a region in attracting foreign investment’ and in this context you have decided to give the award to Gujarat State. However, I remain disappointed that an award is being given to a state which is still under investigation for its role in the 2002 violence which resulted in 2,000 men, women and children being killed and several hundred thousand citizens homeless. Today over 5000 families of Internally Displaced Muslims still live in rehabilitation colonies. Is it acceptable to reward ‘success’ at any price?

I am deeply concerned at the on-going effects of these actions, which continue to disrupt and worsen relations between communities, in the UK and around the world. FDI Magazine must surely practise what it preaches when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility.

Yours faithfully

Ayesha Imam
- 1, Rue OKM 408
- Dakar
- Senegal

— -

Editor, Financial Times

Dear Ms Scardino

I am writing on behalf of South Asian Development Partnership to express our grave concern at the decision to confer the ’FDI Asian Personality of the Year 2009” on Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat .

It has been documented by India’s National Commission on Human Rights, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and many other fact finding reports that Mr Modi was complicit in and personally responsible for the communal carnage that occurred in Gujarat in 2002. Some 2,000 men, women and children were left dead and several hundred thousand citizens homeless. (See the Human Rights Watch report "We Have No Orders to Save You"http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2002/04/30/we-have-no-orders-save-you). Today over 5000 families of Internally Displaced Muslims still live in rehabilitation colonies built by NGOs as they have not been allowed to return to their villages.

On the basis of these and other reports, the U. S. government denied Mr. Modi a visa to visit the United States in 2005. The United States Commission on Religious Freedom subsequently recommended that he be denied a visa when he applied for one again in 2008, at which point Mr. Modi withdrew his application.

In August 2002 South Asian Development Partnership convened a conference in London at the request of Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and other faith community leaders. ‘Healing the Wounds: Human Rights and Minorities in India ’ sought to build bridges of reconciliation through honest examination and open acknowledgement of what had happened in Gujarat (seehttp://www.southasian.org.uk/intro_conference.html). The issues raised at that conference remain unresolved.

It will be a matter of great shame if this award is given to a man with such a record. We are deeply concerned at the effects. It will continue to disrupt and worsen relations between communities, in the UK and around the world. It will damage the credibility of the FT group and FDI magazine. It will demonstrate a distressing lack of concern for issues of truth and justice, for the sake of apparent financial advantage.

We urge you to take immediate action to ensure that this award is rescinded and a public statement of regret is made by the responsible publication.

Yours sincerely

Aïssatou Cissé
- Membre du GREFELS
- Ecrivain
- WG Stop Killing and Stoning Women (SKSW)

__

[Letter to British Newspapers]

Dear Sir

Shameful Award to Narendra Modi’s Gujarat : success at any price?

We welcome FDI Magazine’s decision to withdraw its award of "FDI Asian Personality of the Year 2009" from Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, given the on-going investigation into his human rights record and the issues of communal violence in Gujarat . FDI Editor Courtney Fingar’ has clarified that the criteria of the award will now focus on ‘rewarding the success of a region in attracting foreign investment’ and in this context has decided to give the award to Gujarat State . We remain disappointed that an award is being given to a state which is still under investigation for its role in the 2002 violence which resulted in 2,000 men, women and children being killed and several hundred thousand citizens homeless. Today over 5000 families of Internally Displaced Muslims still live in rehabilitation colonies. Is it acceptable to reward ‘success’ at any price?

We are deeply concerned at the on-going effects of these actions, which continue to disrupt and worsen relations between communities, in the UK and around the world. FDI Magazine must surely practise what it preaches when it comes to Corporate Social Responsibility.

Yours faithfully

Note to editor: please see background correspondence below

Ram Gidoomal CBE
- Chairman, South Asian Development Partnership
- PO Box 43
- Sutton
- Surrey SM2 5WL
- 07798 798259
- 020 8642 3634


US Rights group calls upon the FDi Magazine to cancel the State of Gujarat Award

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2009

Indian Muslim Council - USA (IMC-USA: http://www.imc-usa.org/), an advocacy group working towards safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, called the decision of fDi magazine not to honor Narendra Modi the Asian Personality of 2009 award as a step in the right direction. IMC-USA further urged fDi Magazine to cancel the amended award to the State of Gujarat in lieu of Narendra Modi.

Following widespread protests from rights activists, the fDi Magazine amended the award to be given to Modi with the statement" Following a review prompted by the ongoing investigation into the 2002 Gujarat riots, fDi has decided to present its award to Gujarat state, rather than Mr Narendra Modi, the state’s chief minister". The statement further said "Mr Modi was chief minister of Gujarat at the time of the riots. Mr Modi’s alleged role in connection to the riots is under investigation in which over 2,000 innocent people were killed". This open state sponsored massacre of minority Muslims occurred in 2002 under Modi’s tenure as Chief Minister. In addition, hundreds of women were gang raped on the streets of Gujarat, over 150,000 people were ethnically cleansed and an estimated damage of $500 million was caused to minority owned properties. Narendra Modi is widely regarded as the architect of these massacres, considered to be the most brutal in the history of India since its Independence. After almost 7 years of evasion from any judicial purview on April 24th 2009 the Indian Supreme Court finally asked a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the role of 64 people, including that of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Gujarat 2002 riots cases.

"It was on Modi’s watch that the massacres took place and he continues to be the Chief Minister of Gujarat. Giving the award to the State of Gujarat instead of Modi is akin to awarding Nazi establishment instead of Hitler" said Mr. Rasheed Ahmed, IMC-USA’s President. "Tens of thousands of ethnically cleansed victims of the 2002 violence still live in refugee camps. The State of Gujarat under Modi continues to actively create hurdles into the prosecution of those involved in the violence" he further added.

In 2005, the US State Department banned him from entering the United States following his involvement in these massacres.A recent report published in the beginning of 2009 by the United Nations Human Rights Council has warned of a "very real risk" of a repeat of the 2002 Gujarat riots in the country unless politicians stop exploiting communal distinctions that presents a dim picture of religious intolerance in India. The report compiled by U.N. Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Asma Jahangir states that members of the Muslim community shared their concerns about the ongoing repercussions of communal violence, after the Gujarat massacre in 2002.

Modi has become a huge liability for the State of Gujarat and the industrious Gujarati community. In spite of media hype about Gujarat’s ability to attract foreign investments, a an independent analysis done by journalists Dionne Bunsha (for Frontline) and Salil Tripathi (for The Mint) concluded that foreign investment has declined consistently after Modi became the chief minister of Gujarat.

Indian Muslim Council-USA is the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with 10 chapters across the nation.

CONTACT:
- Dr. Hyder Khan
- phone/fax: 1-800-839-7270
- email: media at imc-usa.org

References:

- [Supreme Court Order]http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?659024
- [UN Human Rights Report by Asma Jahangir] http://www.sacw.net/article641.html
- [Dionne and Salil analysis] http://www.counterpunch.org/prashad09022009.html