U.S. varsity cancels Modi's speech

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 03, 2013 21:00 hrs

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has cancelled a keynote address by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi following an outrage by a group of professors and students over the Indian leader's political past.

The organisers said in a statement that while they stood by the decision to invite Modi, adverse reactions from among the stakeholders involved had prompted the decision.

"Our team felt that the potential polarising reactions from sub-segments of the alumni base, student body and our supporters might put Mr Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs," the statement said.

"We do not endorse any political views and do not support any specific ideology. Our goal as a team is only to stimulate valuable dialogue on India´s growth story," the statement said.

Modi had been chosen to deliver a keynote address via video conferencing at the Wharton´s "India Economic Forum", the annual student-run conference hosted by the Wharton School.

The school´s website had featured Modi along with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia and industrialists like Gautam Adani.

However, a group of Wharton´s professors and students wrote a strongly-worded letter saying they were outraged to learn that Modi had been invited as a speaker.

"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," their letter said.

Recently Modi addressed the students at the Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in New Delhi sparking some controversy as well and a few protests.

The students of the college conducted an internal poll and selected Modi as the speaker at the event.

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