Letters: The idea of Modi in power fills us with dread

These letters appear in the Tuesday 23rd April edition of the Independent

Independent Voices
Monday 21 April 2014 15:57 BST

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


As the people of India vote to elect their next government, we are deeply concerned at the implications of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government for democracy, pluralism and human rights in India.

Narendra Modi is embedded in the Hindu Nationalist movement, namely the RSS and other Sangh Parivar groups, with their history of inciting violence against minorities. Some of these groups stand accused in recent terrorist attacks against civilians.

We recall the extreme violence by the Hindu Right in Gujarat in 2002 which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 people, mostly Muslims. This violence occurred under Modi’s rule, and senior government and police officials have provided testimony of his alleged role in encouraging or permitting it to occur.

Some of his close aides have been convicted for their involvement, and legal proceedings are ongoing in the Gujarat High Court which may result in Modi being indicted for his role. He has never apologised for hate speech or contemptuous comments about various groups – including Muslims, Christians, women and Dalits. His closest aide has been censured recently by India’s Election Commission for hate speech used in this election campaign.

There is widespread agreement about the authoritarian nature of Modi’s rule in Gujarat, further evidenced by the recent sidelining of other senior figures within the BJP. This style of governance can only weaken Indian democracy.

Additionally, the Modi-BJP model of economic growth involves close linking of government with big business, generous transfer of public resources to the wealthy and powerful, and measures harmful to the poor.

A Modi victory would likely mean greater moral policing, especially of women, increased censorship and vigilantism, and more tensions with India’s neighbours.

Prof. Chetan Bhatt, London School of Economics

Dr. Rashmi Varma, University of Warwick

Dr. Murad Banaji, University of Portsmouth

Dr. Leena Kumarappan, London Metropolitan University

Dr. Subir Sinha, School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Phiroze Vasunia, University College London

Prof. Srirupa Roy, University of Göttingen

Prof. Shirin Rai, University of Warwick

Dr. Kalpana Wilson, London School of Economics

Dr. Sumi Madhok, London School of Economics

Dr. Bishnupriya Gupta, University of Warwick

Dr. Amrita Shodhan, School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr. Navtej Purewal, University of Manchester

Dr. Anandi Ramamurthy, University of Central Lancashire

Dr. Brenna Bhandar, School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr. Amit S. Rai, Queen Mary, University of London

Dr. Priyamvada Gopal, University of Cambridge

Dr. Meena Dhanda, University of Wolverhampton

Dr. Hugo Gorringe, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London

Prof. Barbara Harriss-White, University of Oxford

Prof. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University

Dr. Dwijen Rangnekar, University of Warwick

Rohit K Dasgupta, University of the Arts London

Prof. Gautam Appa, London School of Economics

Prof. Patricia Jeffery, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Jairus Banaji, School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr. Goldie Osuri, University of Warwick

Prof. Gurminder Bhambra, University of Warwick

Dr. Shamira A. Meghani, University of Leeds

Prof. Amrita Dhillon, King’s College London

Dr. Rachel Harrison, School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Pablo Mukherjee, University of Warwick

Dr. Srila Roy, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr. Vedita Cowaloosur, Stellenbosch University

Dr. Alessandra Mezzadri, School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr. Dibyesh Anand, University of Westminster

Dr. Nitasha Kaul, University of Westminster

Dr. Bhabani Shankar Nayak, Glasgow Caledonian University

Dr. Talat Ahmed, University of Edinburgh

Karthikeyan Damodaran, University of Edinburgh

Nilina Deb Lal, University of Edinburgh

Nikki Dunne, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Bashabi Fraser, Edinburgh Napier University

Dr. Radhika Govinda, University of Edinburgh

Mary F. Hanlon, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Christopher Harding, University of Edinburgh

Gaia von Hatzfeldt, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Delwar Hussain, University of Edinburgh

Bethany Jennings, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Shishir Nagaraja, University of Birmingham

Daniel O’Connor, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Kanchana N. Ruwanpura, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Eurig Scandrett, Queen Margaret University

Lauren Wilks, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Richard Whitecross, University of Edinburgh

Prof. Gilbert Achcar, School of Oriental and African Studies

Dr. Sharad Chari, University of the Witwatersrand

Dr. Steve Taylor, Northumbria University

Dr. Shakuntala Banaji, London School of Economics

Dr. Sukhwant Dhaliwal, University of Bedfordshire

Supurna Banerjee, University of Edinburgh

Catriona Ellis, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Rowan Ellis, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Anderson Jeremiah, University of Lancaster

Maggie Morrison, University of Edinburgh

Dr. Anindya Raychaudhuri, University of St Andrews

Dr. Sharika Thiranagama, Stanford University

Dr. Joya Chatterji, University of Cambridge

Ravi Hensman, University of Manchester

Dr. Maan Barua, University of Oxford

Dr. Rahul Rao, School of Oriental and African Studies

Prof. Nandini Gooptu, University of Oxford

Dr. Nayanika Mookherjee, Durham University

Dr. Uday Chandra, MPI-MMG, Göttingen

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