From the Viewsroom

Missed opportunity

Ashwini Phadnis | Updated on: Apr 22, 2018
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Modi lost a chance to claim the moral high ground at CHOGM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi missed a good opportunity to use his UK visit for the Commonwealth Summit to put forward the government’s condemnation of the recent incidents of rape of young girls.

Unlike his earlier visits to the US, Dubai, and the UK, where his interactions with the Indian community were accompanied by glitzy, Bollywood-style song-and-dance functions, this visit was overshadowed by the horrific incidents of rape in Kathua and Surat.

To protest these incidents, students and other members of society signed petitions and also took out protest marches in different parts of London while Modi was on British soil.

However, instead of expressing his own condemnation and that of the BJP, the Prime Minister decided to duck the issue. This was evident from the fact that invitations extended to some students based in the UK for a function which the Prime Minister was attending were withdrawn and the Foreign Secretary declined to answer questions on the Kathua tragedy.

Modi did talk about his government’s achievements and how he was working towards ‘sab ka saath, sab ka vikas’ but they were marred by the way he ignored student groups in the UK, who wanted to interact with him and know what the government was doing for the safety of women.

This is in contrast with how the UPA government dealt with the Nirbhaya case in 2012. Soon after this horrific incident Manmohan Singh visited Berlin for the Indo-German Inter-Governmental Consultation. The then Prime Minister, in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, used a question raised by a German correspondent on gender equality to talk of what his government had done to tackle the situation post Nirbhaya’s rape and death.

“I cannot deny that there are certain developments,” he said, adding that the Nirbhaya case had “mobilised thousands of civil rights activists.” He also spoke of the measures his government had taken — the setting of a committee and drafting of a Bill to deal with violence against women.

Sadly nothing much has changed since then. But the least the current government could have done was to condemn the incidents in front of the Indian diaspora, the heads of State attending the Commonwealth Summit and the world at large.

Published on April 22, 2018

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