Millennium Post

Pick ’n drop at Wharton meet

Much like disinvestment, we are witnessing a surge of ‘disinvitation’, especially when it comes to the thrice-victorious chief minister of Gujarat. That the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, a leading global institution in the subject of business and economics, first selected with great fanfare and then dropped Narendra Modi like a hot potato when faced with academic umbrage within the redoubtable establishment, is a case in point. Modi was supposed to deliver the keynote speech at Wharton India Economic Forum, and the invitation was extended as a nod to not only the strength of transnational Indian students studying the subjects at the school, but also a recognition of the growing significance of Indian Americans as a politically active community within the US. But even a casual glance at Wharton’s ‘shopping list’ of leaders from India, who have left an impression on the messy clay of volatile global economic and political situations, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Shashi Tharoor or Rahul Gandhi, indicates that this forum is pretty much without a spine or direction.

Even after having suitably discredited the rumours that Arvind Kejriwal would replace Narendra Modi at the Wharton meet, what remains undiagnosed so far is that Modi’s brand of development and governance is popular only with the richest of Indians. In stark contrast, Modi’s utter disregard for even a diluted form of secularism can have global repercussions, at least in the symbolic world of political correctness, or crass political opportunism. That Wharton School first extended an invitation to Modi is indicative of the India Economic Forum’s ‘wine and dine’ liberalism, that is as far removed from and unaffected by the grass-root choler that Modi arouses in Muslims all over India. On the contrary, its dropping of Modi after the slightest agitation and fear of boycott reeks of a churlish discourtesy that a formidable leader and a potential future prime minister does not deserve under any circumstance.
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