The leftists and liberals never miss an opportunity to criticize Modi

If our Indian-origin academicians believe that by just sending a letter to a few tech companies, they are showing their patriotism and concern, then they are sadly mistaken.


Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a unique person.  Going by Twitter handles and Facebook profiles, he is probably India’s most loved as well as most hated prime minister ever.

The leftists and liberals never miss an opportunity to criticize him while his supporters, or ‘bhakts’ as many call them, defend him vociferously.

During his proposed visit to the United States later this month, Modi will also go to the Silicon Valley where he will address the Indian Diaspora.

Earlier this week, around 100 academicians and professors of Indian origin sent a scornful letterto heads of Silicon Valley companies, which said that Modi’s Digital India initiative lacks privacy protections and will impinge on Indians’ rights.

The letter said: “We urge those who lead Silicon Valley technology enterprises to be mindful of not violating their own codes of corporate responsibility when conducting business with a government which has, on several occasions already, demonstrated its disregard for human rights and civil liberties, as well as the autonomy of educational and cultural institutions”.

As usual, leftists have supported the letter and its contents, while rightists have accused the professors of stooping down to low levels to discredit Modi.  One common thing amongst signatories – all belong to social science fields (barring one or two probably) – a fact used by pro-Modi columnist Swapan Dasgupta to criticize them.

However, in my opinion, this aspect does not hold much relevance.

The letter and the subsequent response to it by people in India raise two larger questions, which are of much more importance.

Is discrediting Modi tantamount to discrediting India?

One detailed read will make it evident that the letter is more directed towards Modi itself rather than the government, which makes their hatred towards Modi clear.

Tweets and Facebook comments by BJP supporters prove, the equation of Modi = India has gained prominence, with most media articles also using the term ‘Modi’s government’ rather than ‘BJP’s government’.

However, just blaming or criticizing them in isolation isn’t justified given the fact that Modi himself likes to take charge of everything and works as a supremo.

This is where the problem lies. Criticizing a prime minister should not necessarily mean that the criticism is directed towards the country as well. I can very well raise red flags over Modi’s work and policies and, yet, not discredit India.

BJP supporters will argue that that Modi is the hope of India, Modi is the most dynamic PM we ever had, etc, but a country grows not just due to its politicians, but millions of citizens as well who work hard with utmost dedication and commitment for the nation.

The nation is always bigger than the individual.

Long distance nationalism is dangerous

When I was in middle school, I always dreamt of settling down abroad. But as I gradually grew older and my interest in India’s social and economic development increased, I realized that if I wanted to contribute to the nation, it would be best to stay in India and work at the grassroots level.

In India, there are many activists who fight against corruption, government apathy, crimes, et cetera despite facing huge hurdles due to muscle power and money. If one wants to fight against social evils and issues, it is imperative that one must have the perseverance and commitment to seek justice, given the long delays inherent in our judicial systems. Change cannot happen just through signed letters.

If our Indian-origin academicians believe that by just sending a letter to a few tech companies, they are showing their patriotism and concern, then they are sadly mistaken.

These academics live in a developed country and have far more luxuries than an average person in India, work in 24*7 air-conditioned offices and when they feel something is wrong in their home country they shoot off a letter to make a point. Ridiculous.

I have always had reservations against long distance nationalists since they primarily indulge in jingoism, without even knowing what’s happening in India. They migrated to other countries for greener pastures and better standards of living. It is ironical that they don’t want to live in India but do not hesitate a bit before sharing their wisdom on how the country should be run.

It amazes me that economists from the US and Canada write about farmer suicides and even propose solutions to curb them, without ever having spent time in rural India.

Our environmental and RTI activists, journalists and NGO workers live in some of the most polluted cities, inhale some of most toxic air in the world, expose ourselves to high levels of noise pollution and travel to work in tight metro compartments with barely any space to move.

If the US academics are indeed concerned about India’s growing disregard for human rights and civil liberties as they have mentioned, then the first thing they should do is resign from their jobs, and return to India, work here and then fight against violations and injustice.

Whether the points they mentioned in their letter are true or not is a different debate altogether, but the fact remains that one must live in India, work with local organizations and approach possible legal remedies available, if he/she is concerned .

Despite receiving death threats, many activists have kept their fight alive for seeking justice for victims of 2002 riots. In the recent Vyapam scam as well as other cases, many activists and journalists have had to pay for their lives, just because they exposed mafia groups and corrupt politicians. Honest IAS officers are transferred at the drop of a hat, if they dare to raise their voice against corruption.

And here we have some Indian-origin academics, who are ‘concerned’ about civil liberties in India but do not want throw themselves into the muck to clear it.

Therefore, the letter is an insult to Indian citizens, who, despite facing several hardships, keep their commitment alive. After all, change doesn’t happen in a day.

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