Economic Negotiation Opens Doors for Protests on Religious Freedom

Economic Negotiation Opens Doors for Protests on Religious Freedom

Narendra Modi, India’s current Prime Minister, arrived in Britain on the 12th of November to negotiate trade deals between England and India. The two countries continue to have strong economic ties, with India investing more in the UK than all of the European Union combined. The Anglo-Indian trade is worth around £9 billion, and India’s investment in the UK will create an additional two thousand jobs in the IT, finance, education, health, energy, logistics and retail industry in the UK [1]. Likewise the UK is the number one investor in India of all G20 countries [2].

During his visit, Modi addressed a crowd of 60,000 people in Wembley Stadium with current U.K. prime minister, David Cameron, stating: “team India, team UK – together we are a winning combination” [3]. Modi was enthusiastically welcomed by the British government and royal family, with India’s colours emblazoned on the London Eye and Tower Bridge.

Although Modi was welcomed by British Authorities, UK citizens have been protesting Modi for his human rights violation record and the injustices that he countenanced first as the Chief Minister of Gujurat and now as the Prime Minister of India.

above: protesters angry at Modi's role in the 2002 Gujurat riots (courtesy of cnn)
above: protesters angry at Modi’s role in the 2002 Gujurat riots (courtesy of cnn)
As prime minister, Modi has kept his promise of developing India’s economy, but has failed to stop suppression of and violence against religious minorities [4]. Over 1,000 Muslims were killed in the 2002 Gujurati riots over religion, which protesters claim Modi failed to effectively address. Since Modi’s party, the BJP, is passionate about Hindu nationalism, more cynical protesters believe Modi may have even encouraged the riots.

UK economic relations with India have given UK citizens an outlet to voice their concerns for the rights of Indian citizens, demonstrating the increasing sense of responsibility to enforce universal human rights.

by Julia Hien Nguyen ’17 and Anoushka Kiyawat ’18