Top business school Wharton's plans to felicitate Narendra Modi during his upcoming visit to the US were shelved after the prime minister opted out due to time constraints, sources in the government said Saturday.
PM Modi could not find time off from his busy schedule in the US though the Ivy League B-school is keen to host him at its campus, a source said. The Prime Minister is in the US from September 23 to 28, and will be visiting both New York and the west coast.
Modi's decision was conveyed to the university authorities earlier this week. Hindustan Times is waiting for a response from Wharton.
Incidentally, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania shares a troubled past with Modi. In 2013, the school scrapped Modi's keynote address at its annual India-themed conference after several academics protested his inclusion.
Modi, who was then the Gujarat chief minister, was asked not to give his speech via video conferencing at the Wharton India Economic Forum, following a signature campaign by Indian American professors over the 2002 riots which took place when he was at the helm.
“Our team felt that the potential polarizing reactions from sub segments of the alumni base, student body and our supporters might put Mr. Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all costs, especially in the spirit of our conference’s purpose,” the WIEF organizing committee had said in a statement then.
Modi's tour is not without its share of controversies this time as well with more than 100 academics from major American universities writing to US technology executives earlier this month against supporting his Digital India initiative.
The letter said Modi’s initiative to expand internet access and improve government performance lacks adequate privacy protections and could impinge on the rights of Indian citizens.
This was met by a counter campaign by another group on petition website change.org saying the anti-Modi academics "lack the slightest respect for facts and for academic integrity."
During his stopover at Silicon Valley, Modi is scheduled to meet top tech honchos such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page and visit the campuses of iconic IT firms.