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Human rights activists angry with Gates Foundation award to ‘butcher of Gujarat’ Modi

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has announced it will honour PM Narendra Modi with the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.

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New Delhi: Human rights activists, lawyers and politicians have stirred a controversy by opposing the announcement of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation award to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan. They have labelled him the “butcher of Gujarat” and “Hitler of the East”.

Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh, announced the award last Monday.

An opinion piece in The Washington Post titled ‘The Gates Foundation shouldn’t give an award to Narendra Modi’ accused the leader of the “Hindu nationalist party” for inciting violence against minorities and curtailing the freedom of expression.

The article, written by lawyers Suchitra Vijayan and Arjun Singh Sethi, said: “In light of Modi’s record, including promoting repressive policies in the past month in Kashmir and the northeastern state of Assam, he should not be given the award.

“The Gates Foundation claims on its homepage that ‘All lives have equal value’. Giving the award to Modi would betray that promise and everyone who has suffered under his rule.”

Also read: Modi govt’s Swachh Bharat shows why switching to ‘mission mode’ is helping India

Liberal activists protest online

The article has been shared widely online by human rights activists, international policy experts, and politicians.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of New York-based Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “Why is the Gates Foundation choosing this moment to honor Indian PM Modi (for fighting open defecation), as Muslims in India face a clampdown in Kashmir, loss of citizenship in Assam, and unremedied violence across the country.”

Pakistani politician Ali Haider Zaidi labelled Modi as the “Hitler of the East”.

Kavita N. Ramdas, a globally-recognised gender equity and justice expert, also commented on Twitter: “#philanthropy cannot pretend to be #apolitical when growing #authoritarianism #majoritarianism and #bigotry are being manifested in the #leadership of nations hope that @melindagates @BillGates @gatesfoundation act!

International human rights lawyer Arsalan Iftikhar wrote on Twitter: “Did you know that Narendra Modi was denied a US visa from 2005-2014 because he was known as the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ for the anti-Muslim pogroms (sic) which killed 2,000 Muslims when he was chief minister of that province?”

Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and activist who serves on the board of the Institute of Policy Studies in Washington DC, accused Modi of “leading a violent settler-colonial campaign in Kashmir” for which, she says, he should be held to account, not honoured.

An award for ‘fighting global inequality’

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, run by the Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist couple, is a private foundation and works on “improving people’s health and wellbeing, helping individuals lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty” in developing countries.

PTI quoted sources as saying that Modi will be presented with the 2019 ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’, an award that is a “special recognition” to celebrate political leaders who have “demonstrated their commitment to the global goals through impactful work in their country and/or globally”.

“At this year’s fourth annual Global Goals Awards, we will be honouring recipients who have been working to tackle the issues contributing to global inequity,” said the Gates Foundation website. “This year, goalkeepers will focus on the challenge of fighting global inequality to ensure no one is left behind.”

Reject the award, RSS affiliate suggests

Modi also received some unsolicited advice from the Sangh Parivar.

The Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an RSS-affiliated group, requested Modi “to reconsider this award, given shady past of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.

“BMGF is no philanthropist, they are doing business in the guise of philanthropy. They are also under severe allegations of conducting illegal and unethical medical trials to foster their business,” wrote Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the SJM, on Twitter.

Also read: After Swachh Bharat success, Modi nudges India on population control, plastic ban, tourism


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  1. If a nation has citizens like Ms. Suchitra Vijayan, Ms. Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan and Mr. Arjun Singh Sethi, it would never need an enemy to malign and vilify it.

  2. I am just curious – who owns The Print? Got to be some anti-India parties. They seem to be so anti-India and anti-Modi and have no qualms about putting up sensational headlines of debunked stories. Sadly, there are enough leftists liberals who add to this nonsense without understanding the issues.

  3. Human Rights is a big business directed only towards those who listen. None of the terror outfits, N.Korea, Pakistan, China, Saudi and the likes in the world violet the the human rights. According to these activists, under the current situation there is no street violence in Kashmir because of the human rights violations by the authorities. The idea is that these violations should stop and allow Kashmir to go in flames with full support of Pakistan.

  4. Wow, seeing the hysterical reactions and motivated (and coordinated) campaign by the breaking-India forces, I am convinced that the Gates Foundation and Modi are doing something right.

  5. Hi Print,‌ If you feel Godhra was an abberation you should mention 1984 Sikhs murder also. Stop harping on issues that have been given a clean chit by the apex court

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