Christine Ro’s recent piece in Forbes on Modi appears to have been written hurriedly without verifying facts and amounts to a little more than mud-slinging.
Christine begins her article by quoting one Zahid Khan, a restaurant worker, in New York. Khan’s abuses directed at Modi should have alerted Christine for a fact-check, instead, she takes his word as the Gospel truth!
Modi’s seven-days visit to the US, included address to the United Nations General Assembly, a speech at the UN Climate Summit, addressing a dialogue on responses to terrorism and violent extremist narrative hosted by the King of Jordan, addressing India-Pacific nations forum, 20 bilateral meetings, engagement with the Caribbean forum, and addressing Bloomberg forum to attract foreign investment, to make India a five trillion dollar economy by 2024. But it seems, Houston’s, over 50,000 strong diasporas, an event attended by Trump and the Gates Award irked Christine to label Modi’s visit a publicity blitz.
Khan’s scoffing at Modi’s Clean India Mission is understandable. But Christine echoing the restaurant worker would amuse readers against the background that the World Bank considered the Mission to be the biggest sanitation movement in the world. The UNICEF and Gates Foundation led ground-level study found that the Mission helped reduce ground-water contamination. But for Christine, Khan’s word weighs more than that of international institutions!
Furthermore, if there was widespread corruption in the toilet program as opined by Khan, opposition parties would have exploited the issue in the 2019 election. But they didn’t. In fact, Modi introduced several anti-corruption measures and provided a financial scandal-free government. Consequently, India jumped from 94th rank (2013) to 78th (2019) in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. This negates Christine’s assertions.
The ‘’temporary’’ provision relating to Jammu and Kashmir (Article 370 of the Indian constitution) was scrapped by the Indian Parliament with a 2/3rd majority. Some opposition parties also supported the move. But Christine appears to be so enamored by the restaurant worker’s opinion that she ignores the decision of the Parliament of the world’s largest democracy.
She cites a BBC article published in 2011 to push the claim of the mass killing of Muslims under Modi’s watch in Gujarat but doesn’t cite BBC’s article in 2012 which reported that India’s highest court cleared his name. She cites an article about the detention of Muslims but doesn’t tell the readers (unless they verify the link provided) that the National Register of Citizens (NRC) is a Supreme Court initiated exercise to identify illegal immigrants. Incidentally, the NRC was promised by the left-backed Congress Party government years back. But they failed to implement it.
To push her narrative, she again resorts to citing old news about the ban on internet and mobile services in J&K, though these were subsequently restored, barring in few districts, that are highly sensitive. On 28 September 2019 ban has been lifted from all districts.
By citing the posters of atrocities in Kashmir, she conveys the impression as though everything happened after the abrogation of Article 370, but the roots of Kashmir’s problem date back to the 1940s. Can she vouch with certainty that the posters are not of Pakistan Army’s atrocities in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir?. They have a record of killing 3 million during the Bangladesh war. Did she check the posters displayed by Baloch activists about atrocities by the Pakistani Army?. Incidentally, Baluchistan was an independent state which was invaded and occupied by Pakistan. Why is she silent about the genocide of Kashmiri Hindus in the 1990s? Christine is obviously not interested in serious research. Obviously, it is a lot easier to present a distorted narrative.
Similarly, it is preposterous on the part of some people to urge Gates Foundation not to honor Modi for Clean India Mission success because of the security situation in J&K.
Either Christine doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know that Modi successfully introduced the world’s largest health care scheme that benefits half a billion Indians – mostly poor, world’s largest safe sanitation scheme, and world’s largest financial inclusion scheme. He abolished instant divorce (triple talaq) to empower Muslim women and brought home safely Muslims stranded in Yemen. No wonder, Muslim countries conferred the highest civilian award on Modi.
She describes herself as a science and international development writer yet fails to carefully weigh the evidence and leaves the readers disappointed.
Do better next time Christine!