Despite protests, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been conferred the ‘Global Goalkeeper Award’ for the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by the government.
Gates Foundation Under Fire Over Award to Modi
Modi received award on September 24 for his government’s efforts to control open defecation in India, on the sidelines of his visit to the UN General Assembly. Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, with much fanfare soon after he took office in 2014. The initiative aimed to build millions of toilets for India’s poor.
The Indian Prime Minister’s award comes despite clamorous protests in recent weeks from Nobel Peace laureates, over 100,000 petition-signers, and human rights advocates and lawyers who all argued that someone with Modi’s record on human rights should not be lauded, for any reason at all. Two celebrities who were originally expected to participate in the event, Jameela Jamil and Riz Ahmed, both also decided not to attend, the Gates Foundation told The New York Times.
Sabah Hamid resigned from the foundation after realising it was willing to award Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi despite his increasing authoritarian grip on power, infliction of state violence and communication shutdown in Kashmir.
A staff member at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says she has resigned in protest at a decision to honour India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This is despite widespread allegations of human rights violations in India-administered Kashmir where an ongoing lockdown and communications blackout continues to cripple normal life on its 51st day.
Modi government has recently come under fire for downgrading the nominal autonomy of disputed Kashmir and imposing tighter curbs using tens of thousands of troops in the already over-militarised region, prompting activists and critics to campaign against the private American foundation.