From Howdy Modi to how dare Modi, asks Indian diaspora

Brand Modi takes a beating overseas

Diaspora

December 11, 2020

/ By / New Delhi

From Howdy Modi to how dare Modi, asks Indian diaspora

Amnesty International, under Shetty’s watch, criticised Indian government for using ‘crude, colonial-era sedition laws to silence its critics

Despite a highly favourable perception of Prime Minister Narendra Modi among the Indian diaspora, some voices of dissent have been heard over time. The ongoing farmers’ protest has made many more speak up against Modi.

“As the Punjab-born descendant of farmers, my heart breaks to see Punjabi farmers assaulted for protesting Indian govt’s pro-big-corporation farm bill that will destroy their farms, way of life, and culture. Hear them, meet with them, & compromise, PM Modi,” tweeted Chandigarh born & US-based lawyer and Republican Party official, Harmeet K Dhillon.

Harmeet K dhillon

Dhillon is a Chandigarh born & US-based lawyer and Republican Party official

Dhillon is one of the many critics of the current Modi government from the Indian diaspora, who have been vocal about the situation of farmers in the country and regarding the insensitive approach of the government towards the farmers protesting against the three farm bills. However, this is not the first time that the Indian diaspora has criticised the ruling Modi led government’s undemocratic and unlawful actions. Many prominent artists, ministers and scholars in the past have been vocal about the use of brute force against minorities or draconian actions like lockdown on Kashmir and citizenship amendment bill.

This domestic political strategy of aggressively taking on critics has now been taken to other nations – global politicians, ministers and scholars who criticise Modi’s Kashmir policy like the citizenship law or the new farm laws, come under media’s scrutiny and face backlash from the government.

Though a vast majority of Indian diaspora members has been fervently pro-Modi, there have been a few prominent persons of Indian origin who have been vocal critics of Modi and have raised their concerns about human rights and the state of the country under the current governments.

Pramila Jayapal, Congresswoman, United States

Pramila jayapal

United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, expressed concern about the Citizenship Amendment

The United States Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, expressed concern about the Citizenship Amendment Act and the proposed nationwide National Register of Citizens.

As a result, S Jaishankar, minister of external affairs in India, refused to attend a pre scheduled meeting with American legislators. Jayapal then wrote in The Washington Post that Jaishankar’s decision to pull out of a meeting with American legislators because of her invitation to the event was surprising.

Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu in 1965, Jayapal, is currently serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington’s 7th congressional district.

Jayapal had introduced a bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives in January this year asking India to uphold human rights in Jammu and Kashmir and said that it was “wholly inappropriate” for a foreign government to try and dictate which members of Congress can participate in meetings. “It is also a sign of weakness for any great democracy to refuse to allow those who have some criticisms to participate in a meeting – a giant missed opportunity for two countries that value dialogue and dissent,” read her tweet.

Salil Tripathi, Journalist, United Kingdom

Salil Tripathi

Salil Tripathi posted a 2009 poem titled My Mother’s Fault on the Babri Masjid demolition

Mumbai, Maharashtra born writer-journalist Salil Tripathi, who’s a universally-renowned free speech activist and the Chair of the Writers in Prison Committee of the PEN International, United Kingdom, posted a 2009 poem titled My Mother’s Fault on the Babri Masjid demolition, Gujarat and the partition of India in 1947 on Twitter.

Within minutes of Tripathi uploading this poem and criticising the current central government of ignoring sentiments of the minorities, his Twitter accounted was suspended by Twitter India.

Though his accounted got restored the next day, artists and scholars of the Indian diaspora criticised Twitter and Twitter India for the unnecessary action. Global literary superstar Salman Rushdie personally chided Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey for his company’s Indian executives & tweeted “India needed Salil’s voice.”

Jagmeet Singh, MP, Canada

Canadian MP Jagmeet Singh had come down heavily on the Indian government over the abrogation of Article 370, which accorded special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019.

Jagmeet singh

Canadian MP Jagmeet Singh had come down heavily on the Indian government over the abrogation of Article 370

Born in Scarborough, Canada, in 1979, Singh is among a handful of international leaders and countries that have criticised the Modi government over its handling of Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a small gathering in the run-up to the elections in the Canada, Singh denounced what India was doing to the people of Kashmir. Speaking of communication blockade, Singh said “They shut down cellphones, they shut down telephone services, they block the media.”

“Anywhere in the world, if the cellphones are being blocked, telephones are being shut down and if the media is not allowed to go there, I can assure you there are human rights violations happening,” he added.

Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of Amnesty International, UK

Salil Shetty, Secretary-General of the London-headquartered Amnesty International, is one of the most influential voices on human rights issues. “Today’s politics of demonisation shamelessly peddles a dangerous idea that some people are less human than others,” says Shetty.

Though Amnesty International has stopped working in India since past one month, citing ‘witch-hunt of the human rights organisations by the Indian government’, the organisation had been reporting on the alarming situation of human rights and the government’s role in suppressing freedom of expression in the country since past many years, especially since the Modi government’s regime in 2014.

Amnesty International, under Bengaluru, Karnataka born 59-year-old Shetty’s watch, had criticised the Indian government for using the ‘crude, colonial-era sedition laws to silence its critics’. “Human rights activists and journalists (in India) faced intimidation and attacks from both state and non-state actors.,” the UK-based NGO said in its annual human rights report in 2017-2019.

The report mentioned a crackdown on civil society organisations with the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act or FCRA being repeatedly invoked to harass organisations that receive foreign funding.

“Caste-based violence and vigilante cow protection groups harassing and attacking people in states including Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka in the name of upholding laws prohibiting the killing of cows were also highlighted as areas of concern,” it said.

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