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Modi’s US-visa debate is skewed

In fact, the national news media has turned the granting of a US visa to the Gujarat chief minister into a matter of life and death, as if America itself is a paragon of virtue and egalitarianism, without practically a single blot on its shining face. While it remains to be fully established whether Modi was complicit in the 2002 Gujarat pogrom, that resulted in deaths of thousands of Muslims and over 250 Hindus, and injuring many more, the clamour to brand him inadmissible within the hallowed precincts of mainland USA is utterly misguided, to say the least.

It is laughable to think that the US, which has a track record outshining everyone else’s when it comes to human rights violation and waging protracted wars in several regions of the world, resulting in loss of life, property and massive disenfranchisement of millions of people, would be the arbiter of the fate of Modi, who could very well become the next prime minister of this country, following the general elections in 2014. To imagine that a mass leader, no matter what his ideological groundings, would be deemed inappropriate to enter the sovereign territory of a nation that is itself neck-deep in human rights crises, and which treats a substantial chunk of its own population as second class citizens despite decades of civil rights movements and having laws forbidding racially motivated discrimination and exploitation in place, is an exercise in perilously unnerving irony.

While no one is saying that Narendra Modi should be allowed to go scotfree for the Gujarat riots, or that his shrill advocacy of ‘Hindu nationalism’ and peddling the old tropes of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ to garner votes should not be condemned or at least debated, nevertheless, what must not be forgotten in its bleary-eyed orchestra of rapturous odes to denying Modi a US visa, is simply that the US has no moral or ethical right to parade its highhanded stance on the leader, given its dismal history and current entanglements in several globally calamitous predicaments. Only recently, a US court has made a travesty of justice by declaring that a Hispanic-American watchman, George Zimmerman, was not guilty of shooting dead a black teen Trayvon Martin as he looked ‘menacing.’ With such deep-seated prejudices still entrenched in the American society, it is laughable that we should seek the moral sanction from the US government and get our act together on Narendra Modi. Why can’t we make up our own minds and stop relying on what Uncle Sam has to say, every time?

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