NEW YORK: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is facing a barrage of criticism from prominent lawyers, human rights activists and philanthropists after it announced that it would honour Narendra Modi, India’s controversial Hindu nationalist prime minister, with an award later this month in recognition of his work to improve sanitation in the country.
Over the last few days, an increasing number of rights advocates and organizations have called for rescinding the award, citing Modi’s dismal human rights record in India and Kashmir.
“As Modi’s India occupies Kashmir, the Gates Foundation has decided to give an award to the far-right Hindu nationalist,” peace activist group CodePink said on Twitter. “Shame on them!”
“Shame on the @gatesfoundation for normalizing the Indian occupation of #Kashmir and rewarding Islamophobic Indian PM Modi!” it added.
Author Saira Rao expressed sorrow in a tweet over the news, the Indian PM “is committing genocide of Muslims in India and Kashmir but is receiving an award in a few weeks here in the United States from the super liberal Gates Foundation”.
“This isn’t complicated,” human rights lawyer and activist Arjun Sethi said on Twitter. “If you build a toilet in one room, and torture in another, you’re undeserving of recognition.”
Yale University researcher Gregg Gonsalves said “Modi is not worthy of any award.
“He is a despot-in-the-making, a human rights abuser,” said Gonsalves. “Everyone in public health should speak up.”
A justice activist, Faiza Ali said, “Modi is a fascist & Islamophobe. Gates Foundation should not proceed with this award after he’s placed a communication blockade in Jammu & Kashmir, detained thousands including kids & amid other serious human rights violations.”