Seventy-five academics – mostly of Indian origin based in British universities – on Tuesday said in a signed letter that the idea of Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi coming to power in New Delhi after the ongoing elections “fills us with dread”.
“A Modi victory would likely mean greater moral policing, especially of women, increased censorship and vigilantism, and more tensions with India’s neighbours”, they say in a letter published in The Independent today.
The academics include those based at the London School of Economics, Oxford, Cambridge, School of Oriental and African Studies, Warwick, Edinburgh, Manchester, Leeds, and universities based outside the UK such as Stanford, Witwatersrand and Gottingen.
Earlier this month, The Guardian published a letter from leading Indian-origin writers, academics and others from India, the US and the UK, stating that "If Modi is elected, it will bode ill for India's future". Signatories included Salman Rushdie, Homi K Bhabha, Deepa Mehta, Anish Kapoor, MK Raina and Saeed Mirza.
The letter by 75 academics says: “As the people of India vote to elect their next government, we are deeply concerned at the implications of a Narendra Modi-led BJP government for democracy, pluralism and human rights in India”.
It recalls Modi’s links with the RSS group of organisations and the 2002 Gujarat riots, and says: “There is widespread agreement about the authoritarian nature of Modi’s rule in Gujarat, further evidenced by the recent sidelining of other senior figures within the BJP. This style of governance can only weaken Indian democracy”.
The letter goes on to say: “Additionally, the Modi-BJP model of economic growth involves close linking of government with big business, generous transfer of public resources to the wealthy and powerful, and measures harmful to the poor”.
Indian elections and Modi have increasingly featured in the British news media, with the dominant theme being that he will not be good for India and its future.