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We (professors, students, lawyers, writers, doctors, and concerned citizens from Philadelphia and around the world) are outraged to learn that the Wharton India Economic Forum has invited Narendra Modi, the Chief Minister of the Indian state of Gujarat, to be a keynote speaker at its 17th Economic Forum on March 23, 2013.

This is the same politician who was refused a diplomatic visa by the United States State Department on March 18, 2005 on the ground that he, as Chief Minister, did nothing to prevent a series of orchestrated riots that targeted Muslims in Gujarat. The most conservative estimates are that over a thousand people, mostly Muslims, died in those riots. Thousands more were forced to leave their homes and businesses. Human Rights Watch (among other international and Indian bodies) showed that politicians and the police in the state abetted the slaughter and displacement of Muslim Gujaratis.

Since then, the Supreme Court of India has repeatedly faulted the Gujarat government led by Modi for failing to prosecute those guilty of the crimes in 2002 and instead of prosecuting whistle-blowers and activists who had tried to bring the guilty to justice. In February 2012, the Supreme Court again criticized the Modi government for using trumped-up charges to harass activists fighting for justice. What this sordid record proves is Modi’s callous disregard for the life of Indian citizens and for the Indian constitution.

In taking cognizance of Modi’s culpability, the State Department also revoked his “existing tourist/business visa under section 212 (a) (2) (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.” As David C. Mulford, United States Ambassador to India, explained then, “Section 212 (a) (2) (g) makes any foreign government official who ‘was responsible for or directly carried out, at any time, particularly severe violations of religious freedom’ ineligible for a visa to the United States.” Ambassador Mulford went on to say that the State Department’s decision was “based on the fact that, as head of the State government in Gujarat between February 2002 and May 2002, [Modi] was responsible for the performance of state institutions at that time. The State Department’s detailed views on this matter are included in its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Report. Both reports document the violence in Gujarat from February 2002 to May 2002 and cite the Indian National Human Rights Commission report, which states there was “a comprehensive failure on the part of the state government to control the persistent violation of rights of life, liberty, equality, and dignity of the people of the state.”

It is incomprehensible to us that this is the man who the Wharton India Economic Forum wishes to celebrate as an exemplar of economic and social development. We find it astonishing that any academic and student body at the University of Pennsylvania can endorse ideas about economic development that are based on the systematic oppression of minority populations, whether in India or elsewhere. Our role as scholars and students — and indeed as would-be entrepreneurs and business managers — must be to develop conscientious and efficacious modes of economic organization, not to piggy-back onto the inhuman policies of politicians who not only lack a commitment to human rights and to ideals of social justice, but whose political success is based on the suppression of substantial sections of their own citizens. Modi still does not have a United States visa to enter the US, but Wharton plans to present him on Skype to the audience. Recently there have been efforts to whitewash Modi’s grim record and to grant him international respectability. Wharton’s invitation lends itself to doing just that.

We urge the Wharton India Economic Forum to revoke their invitation to Narendra Modi. If it does not do not do so, we pledge to protest his presence — virtual as it will be, given that he remains ineligible for a United States visa — in a variety of ways, including at the meeting of the Forum. We will also do all that we can to continue to educate our community about the incalculable and continuing harm done by Modi’s brand of politics to the secular values enshrined in India’s constitution.

We should add that signatures are pouring in, and the following names represent those who signed within a few hours of the circulation of this letter.

1. Ania Loomba, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
2. Suvir Kaul, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
3. Kasturi Sen, Lawyer, Philadelphia
4. Toorjo Ghose, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
5. Daud Ali, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
6. Amy Kaplan, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
7. Projit Mukharji, Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
8. Parvati Ramchandani, Professor, Medicine, University of Pennsylvania
9. Mridu Rai, Assistant Professor, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
10. Mona Bhan, Assistant Professor, DePauw University
11. Simona Sawhney, Professor, University of Minnesota
12. Sambuddha Chowdhuri, University of Pennsylvania
13. Patton Burchett, Assistant Professor, New York University
14. Dilip Ramchandani, Professor, Drexel University
15. Steve Vose, Assistant Professor, Florida International University
16. Shashank Saini, University of Pennsylvania
17. Shohini Ghose, Associate Professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
18. James Caron, Professor, University of London, UK
19. Bakirathi Mani, Associate Professor, Swarthmore College
20. Sarah Pierce Taylor, University of Pennsylvania
21. Anjali Arondekar, Associate Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz
22. Najnin Islam, University of Pennsylvania
23. Auritro Majumder, Syracuse University
24. Femida Handy, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
25. Kathryn Zyskowsky, University of Washington
26. Meghna Chandra, University of Pennsylvania
27. Nitasha Kaul, Professor, University of Westminster, UK
28. Ashley L. Cohen, University of Pennsylvania
29. Pavitra Jaisankar, University of Pennsylvania
30. Mukti Mangharam, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University
31. Piyali Bhattacharya, Writer, New Haven.
32. Catie Buttner, University of Pennsylvania
33. Samira Ali, University of Pennsylvania
34. Athanasia Nantina Vgontzas, University of Pennsylvania
35. Tariq Thachil, Assistant Professor , Yale University
36. Tanya Palit, Boston
37. Shaunak Shastry, Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati
38. Ajay Madiwale, New York
39. Simran Jeet Singh, Columbia University
40. Gray Fisher, University of Southern California
41. Paul K. Saint-Amour, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
42. Amy Paaeth, University of Pennsylvania
43. Monika Bhagat-Kennedy, University of Pennsylvania
44. Ather Zia, University of California, Irvine
45. Sara Mourad, University of Pennsylvania
46. Amrita Dhar, University of Michigan
47. Marc Kelly, University of Pennsylvania
48. Carthi Manikarottu, University of Pennsylvania
49. Omar Al-Ghazzi, University of Pennsylvania
50. Sasha Wijeyeratne, Swarthmore College
51. Thomas Dichter, University of Pennsylvania
52. Priya Kothari, University of California, Berkeley
53. Sunny Yang, University of Pennsylvania
54. Steve Gold, Lawyer, Philadelphia
55. Matt Berkman, University of Pennsylvania
56. Jigna Desai, Professor, University of Minnesota
57. Ram Cnaan, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
58. Aliya Rao, University of Pennsylvania
59. Jessica Weisbrot, University of Pennsylvania
60. David Citrin, University of Washington
61. Sara Schwartz, University of Pennsylvania
62. Anna Remillard, University of Pennsylvania
63. Dwaipayan Banerjee, New York University
64. Amruta Inamdar, University of Pennsylvania
65. Alison Updyke Neff, University of Pennsylvania
66. Jill Mullin, Philadelphia
67. Matt Neff, University of Pennsylvania
68. Peter McCarthy, University of Pennsylvania
69. David Eng, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
70. Jazmin Delgado, University of Pennsylvania
71. Priya Lal, Assistant Professor, Quinnipiac University
72. Andrew Korn, University of Pennsylvania
73. Kathryn Hardy, University of Pennsylvania
74. Tanwi Nandini Islam, Brooklyn
75. Kevin Gotkin, University of Pennsylvania
76. Erica Zaveloff, University of Pennsylvania
77. Joan Lubin, University of Pennsylvania
78. Maria Khan, University of Pennsylvania
79. Ishita Srivastava, New York
80. Arati Karnik, Philadelphia
81. Simran Thadani, University of Pennsylvania
82. Gautam Tambay, University of Pennsylvania
83. Lisa Mitchell, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
84. Andrew Parker, Professor, Rutgers University
85. Hamsa Stainton, University of Kansas
86. Emilia Bachrach, University of Texas
87. Sanjeev Mahajan, Mountain View, CA
88. Kate Zambon, University of Pennsylvania
89. Divya Nair, University of Pennsylvania
90. Sabina Sawhney, Associate Professor, Hofstra University
91. Aamir Qureshi, San Jose, CA
92. Jayadev Athreya, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois
93. Philip Friedrich, University of Pennsylvania
94. David Kazanjian, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
95. Jennifer Boyle, University of Pennsylvania
96. Nicole Chalmers, University of Pennsylvania
97. Katherine Kasdorf, New York University
98. John Cort, Denison University
99. Emily LaDue, University of Pennsylvania
100. Seema Bali, Washington D.C.
101. Chukka Srinivas, San Jose, CA
102. Stephanie Cruz, University of Washington
103. Darren Byler, University of Washington
104. Catherine Warner, University of Washington
105. Sunaina Maira, Professor, University of California, Davis
106. Rupa Vishwanath, Professor, University of Gottingen, Germany
107. Sharad Chari, Associate Professor, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa
108. Leya Mathew, University of Pennsylvania
109. Shalini Gera, San Francisco
110. Mariam Durrani, University of Pennsylvania
111. Nalini Natarajan, Professor, University of Puerto Rico
112. Praveen K. Chaudhry, Associate Professor, State University of New York
113. Radhika Govindrajan, Yale University
114. Shuja Malik, University of Maryland
115. Suparna Chaudhry, Yale University
116. Sahana Ghosh, Yale University
117. Yasmin Qureshi, Writer
118. Huma Dar, University of California, Berkeley
119. Lubna Hamid, National Institute of Clinical Research, CA
120. Syed Zafar Mehdi, New Delhi, India
121. Mohammed Junaid, City University of New York
122. Aishwarya Iyer, New Delhi, India
123. Babu Suthar, University of Pennsylvania.
124. Megan Stanton, University of Pennsylvania.
125. Sakshi Dewan, Delhi University, India
126. Chris Taylor, Professor, University of Chicago
127. Shahzeb Rao, New York.
128. Miguel Huerta, University of Pennsylvania
129. Aaron Skrypski, Lawyer, Philadelphia
130. Neesha Shah, Lawyer, Philadelphia
131. Michelle Westcoat, Lawyer, Philadelphia
132. Michael Collins, University of Pennsylvania
133. Zahid Chaudhary. Associate Professor, Princeton University
134. Mrinalini Chakravorty, Assistant Professor, University of Virginia
135. Durba Mitra, Assistant Professor, Bowdoin College
136. Kathleen Hall, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania
137. William Elison, Visiting Professor, Duke University
138. Karline McLain, Associate Professor, Bucknell University
139. Anindita Sengupta, Ohio State University
140. Ananya Dasgupta, University of Pennsylvania
141. Amrita Ibrahim, Johns Hopkins University
142. Poulomi Saha, Assistant Professor, Dickinson College
143. Nandini Deo, Assistant Professor Lehigh University
144. Svati P. Shah, Assistant Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
145. Raili Roy, PhD, The Ohio State University, South Asia Center, UPenn
146. Emilia Bachrach, PhD Candidate, University of Texas-Austin
147. Akshay Mangla, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
148. Amrita Ibrahim, Johns Hopkins University
149. Dwaipayan Sen, Assistant Professor, Amherst College
150. Priyanka Srivastava, Asst Professor of History, U Mass, Amherst
151. Avishek Konar, Ohio State University
152. Martha Ann Selby, Professor, University of Texas at Austin
153. Karline McLain, Associate Professor, Bucknell University
154. Kamala Visweswaran, University of Texas at Austin.
155. Parijat Desai, Brooklyn, NY
156. Beth Linker, Professor, University of Pennsylvania
157. Jonathan D. Moreno, Professor,University of Pennsylvania
158. David S Barnes, Associate Professor, UPenn
159. Lisa Ruth Rand, , HSS, UPenn
160. Nikhil McKay Anand, Assistant Professor, Haverford College.
161. Kuhu Tanvir, University of Pittsburgh
162. Keely Sutton, University of Texas-Austin
163. A. Naqvi, University of Rutgers at Camden.
164. Maswood Zafar, Jamia Hamdard University , New Delhi INDIA
165. Naila Suhail, Associate Professor, Lucknow University.
166. Emilia Bachrach, PhD Candidate, University of Texas-Austin
167. Sergio Mukherjee, University of Pennsylvania
168. Carin Jodha Fischer, Managing Trustee, J & K Rural Development Foundation, Srinagar, Kashmir
169. Bravish Rau, UCLA
170. Shushma Shah, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
171. Olivia Webster, Temple University
172. Sarah Shehabuddin, Assistant Professor, Asian University for Women
173. Devika Ghai
174. Preeti Chopra
175. Samuel Ostroff, Uniersity of Pennsylvania
176. Ambarien Alqadar, Assistant Professor, Jamia Millia Ismalia University
177. Nathaniel Roberts, Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute, Gottingen, Germany
178. Andrew Nicholson, Associate Professor, Asian Studies, SUNY, Story Brook
179. Yogesh Chandrani, Columbia University
180. Anirvan Chatterjee, University of California, Berkeley
181. Barnali Ghosh, Berkeley, CA
182. Kirti Patel
183. Vinay Bhat, Santa Clara, CA
184. Balaji Narasimhan
185. Somu Kumar, Wharton Business School Alumni, Elkridge, MD
186. Parvathy Prem, University of Texas, Austin
187. Ramkumar Sridharan, San Jose, CA
188. Svati Shah, Assistant Professor, University of Massacusetts
189. Jawad Khan
190. Zoya, Department of Physics, Stony Brook University
191. Umang Kumar, Boston, MA
192. Pushpa Iyer, Monterey Institute of International Studies
193. Monica Mody
194. Rupal Oza
195. Anu Mandavilli, Friends of South Asia, San Francisco
196. Steven Feierman, Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania
197. Robert A Aronowitz, Professor & Chair, History and Sociology of Science, Univ of Penn
198. Philip Freidrich, university of Pennsylvania
199. Donald Silberberg, Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania
200. Faisal Chaudhry, ACLS New Faculty Fellow, University of Pennsylvania
201. Rosanna Dent, University of Pennsylvania
202. Eram Alam, University of Pennsylvania
203. Waseed Syed, Indian American Muslim Council
204. Piya Chatterjee, Riverside, CA
205. Fayaz Ahmed
206. Khalid Ansari
207. Walter Hakala, University of Pennsylvania
208. Nandini Chandrasekaran, University of Pennsylvania
209. Ruchi Chaturvedi, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
210. Azra Fasihuddin
211. Balmurli Natrajan
212. Ian Petrie, University of Pennsylvania
213. Preeti Sampat
214. Shambhavi Prakash, Rutgers University
215. John Collins, Ph.D.
216. Manissa Maharawal
217. Bhavani Raman, Assistant Professor, Princeton University
218. Francis Cody, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto
219. Sangeeta Kamat Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts
220. Vinay Gidwani, University of Minnesota
221. Shireen Khan
222. Farhana Rahman
223. Debashree Mukherjee, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University
224. Damyanti Radheshwar
225. Josna Rege, Worcester State University
226. Arthur Binford, Chair, Dept. of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work, CUNY
227. Sharika Thiranagama, Assistant professor of Anthropology, Stanford University
228. Indulata Prasad
229. Chinmayee Dave-Subhash
230. Alaka Basu, Professor, Department of Development Sociology, Cornell University
231. Anusha Hariharan, Chennai, India
232. Oishik Sircar, University of Melbourne, Australia
233. Shreshta Singh, University of Pennsylvania
234. Shiney Varghese, Gujarat, India & Minneapolis
235. Julie Skurski, distinguished Lecturer, Anthropology, CUNY
236. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Lawyer, Mumbai, India
237. Ajit Patil
238. Anahita Sarabhai
239. Anne Gorrissen
240. Kanthimurty, Krishnamurthy, Alumnus, University of Pennsylvania
241. S. Seshan, Mumbai Vizhithezhu Iyakkam, Mumbai, India
242. Daniel Mazgaonkar
243. Siddhartha Mitra
244. Ashley Tellis, Department of English, Ramjas College, Delhi University, India
245. Usman Jawed, Dept. of Sociology, University of Delhi, India
246. Suma Josson
247. Melanie Kumar, Shalom, Bangalore, India
248. Anjali Monteiro, Dean, School of Media & Cultural Studies Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India
249. Kit Fattorini
250. Chaitra Chandrapillai
251. Lakshmi
252. Nandini Manjrekar
253. Larissa Sheldon
254. Mahomed Bhana, MD
255. Saygun Gokarikesel, CUNY
256. Gulrez Shah Azhar
257. Ragini Shah, Associate Professor, Suffolk University Law School
258. Saara Hafeez
259. Gaurav Jashnani Sindhi, Teachers College, Columbia University
260. Nikhil Aziz
261. Tanushree Gangopadhyay, Journalist, Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
262. Hidayath Ansari, University of Wisconsin
263. Niti Rathod
264. Mary Ellen Cahill, Anthropology, CUNY
265. Subhrajit Bhattacharya, University of Pennsylvania
266. David Egilman, Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Brown University
267. Sumi Krishna, Bangalore
268. Karen Gabriel, Associate professor, St. Stephens College, Delhi University
269. Suryakant Waghmore, Chair, Centre for Environmental Equitey and justice, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, India
270. Ranjit Kohli, Wharton Alumnus, New York

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