KARACHI: When it was announced that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation had decided to honour Indian Prime Minister, Narendera Modi, for his work on Clean India Mission, it created an uproar because of what Indian state is currently doing in Kashmir. Several prominent celebrities, such as Jameel Jamil and Riz Ahmed, opted out of the event that was celebrating and awarding Modi.
It appears now that a staff member, Sabah Hamid, who was a communications specialist and program officer of the Gates Foundation has decided to quit her job in order to protest the award.
In an interview with TRT World, Hamid explained her reason for quitting: “The Gates Foundation is awarding the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, with its annual Global Goalkeeper award. I believe this is wrong. In my opinion, any organisation that works to improve the lives of the vulnerable, and to reduce inequality in the world, should not honour a person whose decisions inflict irreversible harm on the vulnerable and whose reign has increased inequality in an already unequal country manifold. Since the foundation seemed set on its course of action to go ahead with the award – which as a private foundation it is entitled to – I could do just one thing: leave.”
The interview also reveals that Hamid is a Kashmiri herself but that was not the sole reason she quit. “My protest is not about just the last 50 days in Kashmir though. Things were not “normal” in Kashmir even before August 5, 2019. I would have protested then, not just because of the occupation in Kashmir, but for what the Modi regime is responsible for in India itself – the lynching of Dalits, Christians and Muslims, the NRC in Assam (and potentially elsewhere), the 2002 Gujarat pogrom – any of these even by itself should be the reason enough,” she explained.
The award has been heavily protested around the world. Nearly 37 development academics and practitioners have also condemned the foundation for giving Modi this award.