By Kashif-ul-Huda, TwoCircles.net
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Silicon Valley today. This comes after attending the UN Sustainable Development Summit in New York where he tried to position himself as a global leader. The visit to Silicon Valley is important as it further solidifies his image as global leader who has global capital backing. India’s young population is getting restless as the reality of empty promises or “jumla-bazi” of BJP becoming clearer to all. Modi whose political life began with Gujarat genocide of 2002 and who has reaped the political fruits of that bloodshed is now trying hard to shake off that label. PM Modi’s frequent international visits is an attempt to become an undisputed leader in India by being acceptable globally.
However this is not going to be easy as Gujarat genocide of 2002 which killed over thousand people in the state governed by the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi was probably the first well-documented communal violence. This too would have also gone down like thousands of other instances of communal violence where nothing happens beyond an official investigation but for a dedicated group of activists who doggedly used the legal process to get justice in hundreds of cases arising out of Gujarat violence of 2002.
Modi’s administration left no stone unturned to harass and subvert the process of justice. Harassment continues even after Modi was elevated to the position of the Prime Minister after leading his BJP to victory in 2015 parliamentary elections. The fact that such a tainted politician can lead his party to an unprecedented victory and become leader of the nation points to the right turn the politics in India has taken over the years.
Nothing much has changed for Mr. Modi even after becoming the Prime Minister. He may not preside over a genocide now but a low-level communal violence is being reported almost on a daily basis in India, anti-minority hate speeches spoken on a regular interval by BJP leaders without a public rebuke by the PM, forced conversion of Muslims and Christians by Hindutva groups. States ruled by Modi’s party is aggressive in passing laws that impact food, culture, living of Muslims. These are a reflection of the politics that gave BJP victory and which in turn creates an environment where Hindutva elements know that they can get away with murder.
International media has unfortunately not paid much attention to happenings in India because these incidents have been tactfully kept at a low simmer. Modi’s international visit is to seize the narrative and establish him as a global leader in international media. Thankfully a group of activists have used Modi’s visit to the Silicon Valley in the USA to put in focus Modi’s violent history and Hindutva politics that shows in how his government sets policies and operates against marginalized groups.
Alliance for Justice and Accountability (AJA) has been leading this effort to show the other side of Narendra Modi. They have launched ModiFail.com a website that has report on Modi government’s record on environment, women’s rights, economy, democracy, digital freedom, LGBTQ Indians, Dalits, Adivasis and issues of religious freedom under his watch.
#ModiFaildotcom trended in India a week ago and people still continue to tweet under #ModiFail to highlight how Modi’s government has failed in their promises. It seems apt that a digital campaign will be launched against a political leader whose popularity was a result of masterful use of the internet and social media. But this digital protest is spilling over to the real world as well. A protest is organized outside the SAP Center in San Jose, California where Narendra Modi will address a carefully selected group of people later today.
Another real-life campaign has sent Mark Zuckerburg, the founder of FaceBook, bottles of Purell hand-sanitizer to help him clean his hands after he meets and shakes hands with Modi. “Zuck[erburg], don’t get that blood all over your hands,” says the campaign zuckwashyourhands.com arguing that “we all know much much blood is on his [Modi] hands.”
Later today, hundreds of people will stand outside the SAP Center even as thousands sit inside to listen to Narendra Modi. Supporters of Modi will be dismissive of the protesters but Modi’s tainted record as chief minister and now the prime minister needs greater scrutiny.