Mohandas Pai turns down Wharton invitation

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Bangalore, March 15: The Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF) received another jolt on Thursday after Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global, rejected the invitation to deliver a keynote address at the programme on March 23.

Pai said he was upset at the way India was treated by a section of the international community at the WIEF. The forum had cancelled the speech of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi which he was supposed to deliver via video-conferencing after a section raised objection about his human rights record.

The move sparked off a massive controversy with many Indian sponsors like Adani Group and Hexaware Technologies and speakers deciding to withdraw from the event, putting the US institute's reputation at stake. The WIEF had later invited Arvind Kejriwal but it failed to pacify the angry minds.

Pai said his decision to overlook the WIEF invitation was not only influenced by the Modi episode but also by the latest instances where Indian leaders and diplomats have been shabbily treated by some countries.

He was particularly upset with the recent Italian marines controversy which was caused after Italy disrespected the India by not letting two of its accused marines face trial for murdering two Indian fishermen as it had promised earlier. Pai said such act was an insult to the bilateral relation.

Pai's decision also coincided with Pakistan national assembly adopting a resolution condemning the execution of 2001 parliament attack convict Afzal Guru and Sri Lankan navy personnel capturing 60 Indian fishermen while they were fishing near Katchatheevu close to Rameswaram.

OneIndia News

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