Modi still persona non grata in US academic circles

The shadow of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogrom in his state still haunts Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, as the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has cancelled a keynote address that was to be given by Modi at the India Economic Forum in Philadelphia later this month following a protest by faculty and students.

The organisers said they stood by the decision to invite Modi, but adverse reactions from ''multiple stakeholders'' had prompted them to take the action.

"Our team felt that the potential polarising reactions from sub-segments of the alumni base, student body and our supporters might put Mr Modi in a compromising position, which we would like to avoid at all cost.

''We do not endorse any political views and do not support any specific ideology. Our goal as a team is only to stimulate valuable dialogue on India's growth story," the Forum said in a statement on Sunday.

Modi had been approached by the Wharton School students' body, which organises the India Economic Forum, and he had agreed to deliver a keynote address through video conference on 22-23 March.

But professors and students from various schools wrote a strongly-worded letter to the management, saying they were outraged to learn that Modi had been invited as a speaker.