Prime Minister rendra Modi’s visit to Britain seems to have done the kind of good for India that he had not bargained for. Deals worth £9 billion were on the cards and they were duly executed. There was a civil nuclear pact, and the two countries decided to collaborate in the field of defence and cyber security. There was also the release of a rupee bond for the Indian Railways. In addition, Prime Minister Modi announced his decision to use London as his chosen city for offshore rupee trading with the launch of Rs 1 billion worth of bonds. What he had not bargained for was the kind of questions that would be raised by writers and the public about the lack of tolerance in India and the people’s loss of the freedom of expression. The Guardian carried about a hundred letters on the issue, and writers like Salman Rushdie urged British Prime Minister David Cameron to raise the issue of intolerance with Modi both in public and in private discussions. Modi also had to face direct questions from the public on the issues of the denial of the freedom of expression and intolerance. The outcome has been good for India both in terms of the legitimate fears of citizens and the image of the country projected abroad. Modi was obliged to issue a statement that India would not tolerate intolerance. When asked about sectarian strife in India, Modi told the media that the Indian authorities would “take strict action against those who indulge in such (violent) acts”. How one wishes he had made such a statement in India a month ago instead of having to do so in London for the whole world to infer that the statement was made at the jostling of the British Prime Minister and British writers!
Modi on Intolerance