People Around The World Have Started A Petition To Ask Bill Gates To Take Away Modi's Award

By Maryam Malik | 19 Sep, 2019

The petition asking for Modi’s award to be taken back has gone viral all over the world

After the Kashmir crisis, there have been many questions raised at India’s image as the biggest democracy in the world and one of the fastest growing economies. Given its illegal occupation and treatment of Kashmir, India’s legitimacy as a regional power, much less a world power is in jeopardy.


It was recently announced that Narendra Modi, will be honored by the Gates Foundation for his leadership and commitment to improve access to sanitation within India


The award is given to individuals who have contributed to improve the lives of the poor. They tell the extraordinary stories of remarkable people taking action to bring the Global Goals to life. One individual to be awarded is Narendra Modi. Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, his sanitation initiative, which was launched back in 2014,  focused on improved access to toilets for millions of rural Indians. It has gotten the Bill and Melinda Gates Awards recognizing Modi for it.


Activists have started a petition calling for the Foundation to take back Modi’s award because of his human rights record


On Tuesday, a dozen South Asian American demonstrators, including academics, lawyers and activists, marched to the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle to deliver a petition with more than 100,000 signatures. Wearing “Free Kashmir” T-shirts, the group opposed the award and wanted the high-profile organization to rescind its decision and not to honor Modi’s Swachh Bharat Mission citing human rights violations committed under his rule.


The petition states that it is “inconsistent to give a humanitarian award to a man whose nickname is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’ “

“For over a month now, PM Modi has placed 8 million people in Jammu and Kashmir under house arrest, blocked communications and media coverage to the outside world, detained thousands of people including children, and denied basic benefits. Reports of torture, including beatings and the murder of a young child by Indian security officers, are emerging as well,” said the letter.

“While we understand the award was given for [Modi’s sanitation initiative], it nevertheless seems inconsistent to give a humanitarian award to a man whose nickname is the ‘Butcher of Gujarat’,” the statement said referring to the 2002 massacre in which more than 1,000 people were killed in anti-Muslim riots and Modi was the Chief Minister at that time.

One of the demonstrators in Seattle was Javed Sikander, who said he is a former Microsoft employee. He spoke of his admiration for the Microsoft co-founder, calling Bill Gates and his namesake foundation an inspiration.

“That is all the more reason we’re so disappointed that the foundation would honor a person who is clearly committing human rights violations in India,” Sikander said.


The petition also urges for Modi’s award to be taken away because of his recent actions in Kashmir

“In Kashmir, more than 800,000 Indian armed forces have kept eight million Kashmiris detained in their own homes without phones or internet services for the last month,” the petition said.

The petition says Modi’s award “could not have come at a more awkward time.” Modi’s government revoked the autonomy and imposed tighter controls on Kashmir, including limiting internet access, mobile and landline phones and cable TV in the disputed region home to 12.5 million people.


So many people have been raising their voices against this award

Lawyers and human rights activists Suchitra Vijayan and Arjun Singh Sethi wrote: “this award would legitimize his policies and embolden the ethnonationalist forces he has championed.”

Kenneth Roth, executive director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch, tweeted: “Why is the Gates Foundation choosing this moment to honor Indian PM Modi as Muslims in India face a clampdown in Kashmir, loss of citizenship in Assam, and unremedied violence across the country?”

“The Muslim community, interfaith advocates, and humanitarians all across the country have joined this cause because Modi has been encouraging mass-violence against Muslims for decades,” said Abdul Malik Mujahid, Chair of Justice For All.


We all know how Riz Ahmed and Jameela Jamil also recently boycott this event because Modi was being given the award


However, disappointingly the Gates Foundation is standing by its decision to honor Modi, for now

The Foundation in a statement said it respects the petitioners’ views, but Modi will receive its annual Goalkeepers Global Goals Award for providing 500 million people in India safer sanitation.  “We work on the specific issues where we believe we can have the greatest impact for the world’s poorest,” the Gates Foundation statement said. “Before the Swachh Bharat mission, over 500 million people in India did not have access to safe sanitation, and now, the majority do,” they further added.



People are still slamming the foundation’s rationale

Critics believe that hygiene and cleanliness cannot compensate for rights abuses.

Do you think Modi should be honored for his good public work despite a record of human rights violations? Let us know in the comments.


Riz Ahmed And Jameela Jamil Are Boycotting A Bill Gates Foundation Event Because It’s Honoring Modi

Fawad Chaudhry Wished Modi Happy Birthday With A Dirty Joke And Obviously Indians Ko Aag Lag Gayi


Cover image via: Alaim Jocard/European Press Photo Agency

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