Wharton or not, Modi set to speak to North American audience

Wharton or not, Modi set to speak to North American audience

Wharton or not, Modi set to speak to North American audience

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi would after all speak to audiences in North America courtesy the Overseas Friends of BJP, following the cancellation of an invitation from the Wharton India Economic Forum.

The Bhartiya Janata Party's overseas liaison unit announced Wednesday that Modi shall address American and Canadian citizens via live video speech March 9 at 8.00 p.m. (6.30 a.m. India time March 10) through US based TV Asia channel.

Organised under the BJP global community outreach programme, Modi's speech broadcast live from Ahmadabad would be available for viewing live at two centres in New Jersey and Chicago besides TV Asia, according to OFBJP convenor Vijay Jolly.

Meanwhile, WIEF's cancellation of the invitation to Modi to speak via video conference at its upcoming its annual student-run India-centric conference in Philadelphia March 23 has received mixed reaction here.

Expressing disappointment at the decision to disinvite Modi, an influential Democrat lawmaker Eni Faleomavaega said "Universities are a place for divergent views. For Wharton to suppress the views of some at the expense of others simply is not right.""It is disappointing that Wharton rescinded its invite in response to a protest from a segment of professors and students who are reaching beyond the law and coming awfully close to violating the rights of others who have a different view," he said.

The top democrat on the House Foreign Relations Committee's subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific had at a recent Congressional hearing urged the Obama administration to review its policy regarding Modi and begin a dialogue with him.

In a Wall Street Journal poll on the issue, 92.5 percent of nearly 5000 votes cast from around the world said Wharton had made a mistake in Modi's case.

Sadanand Dhume, an Indian American columnist for The Wall Street Journal and a scholar at American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think-tank, has also announced he would not speak at the Wharton forum in protest against its decision on Modi.

Aseem Shukla, an associate professor of surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine and a co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation, said "political gamesmanship won over business savvy" in the Wharton decision.

"The students and the Wharton administration must learn the lessons of consequences even as they seek redemption that can be theirs with the right moves forward," he said.