New Delhi, March 6: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had agreed for an open discussion with Wharton students and by cancelling his event the students have derived themselves an opportunity to grill him. And the students are going to get a lecture on their disrespectful conduct.
Modern politicians hardly submit themselves to be questioned in an open forum and according to US India Business Council (USIBC) president Ron Somers, the Gujarat chief minister had agreed to a 'no ground rules' grilling.
The USIBC represents over 350 top US companies including those in the Fortune 500 list.
Somers expressed his dissatisfaction over the decision taken by organisers of Wharton India Economic Forum (WIFE) and Somers said he gives Modi credit for being willing to submit to a 'no ground rules' format. The students had a chance to ask the Gujarat Chief Minister hard questions, he felt.
Cancellation of the invitation to Modi was a missed opportunity for the students of the prestigious business school, Somers said and termed it as "unfortunate and disrespectful.''
"Such a 'no holds barred' dialogue between future business leaders and a leader of Chief Minister Modi's capability and stature would have expanded the plane of hope and progress, on which the future rests. Do we stand for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Such questions asked and answered only advance democracy," Somers said.
"Since when is an American University against free speech?" asked Somers, whose USIBC was the main partner in the recently concluded Vibrant Gujarat investors meet in Gandhinagar. Somers is slated to speak at the Wharton meet and USIBC is one of the three media partners of the summit.
USIBC is not withdrawing from the event and Somers intends to deliver his key note address to make his point. "I still plan on attending to make this point about free speech, and about how young people in India and the United States share common ground, similar values: where your last name shouldn't matter, and that freedom and liberty bring with them the responsibility to insist on better governance and for active and participatory democracy," he said.
During the Vibrant Gujarat summit this year, industrialists from across the globe made a beeline to Gujarat, pledging support and investment.
Corporate leaders feel that considering Gujarat's economic indicators, Modi's performance as chief minister is very good. By cancelling the event, Wharton has snubbed the Indian leader, they add.
A few industrialists see the tussle as a proxy fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party leader and the Congress. Whatever be the cause, Somers intends to tell the Wharton students on how to conduct themselves in a democratic world.