Harvard Economist Accused of 'Spreading Enmity Between Communities'

While Harvard stands by a professor's right to free speech, India is not quite as tolerant of Harvard-educated economist Subramanian Swamy. Swamy has been charged with "spreading enmity" between India's Hindus and Muslims, in the aftermath of a newspaper editorial calling for the removal of Muslim voting rights as a collective Hindu-nationalist response to Muslim acts of terror.

Swamy is the current president of India's conservative Janata party. A native of India, Swamy once served as a resident tutor in Lowell House and still regularly teaches summer economics classes at Harvard. He has long been a powerful and controversial force in Indian politics.

The current charges against him concern an article of his, published in July, called "How to Wipe Out Islamic Terror." Echoing the conservative Hindu nationalism of his party, he called for "a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist." He went further to say that any Muslim who refuses to acknowledge "his or her Hindu legacy… can remain in India but should have no voting rights."

On Monday, Delhi police registered the case under Section 153a of the Indian penal code, "spreading enmity between communities." Swamy claims that the charges, coming many months after the article's publication, are an indication of corruption in the Indian government. He believes the charges to be an act of retaliation for his role in exposing the 2G spectrum scandal earlier this year, which implicated important members of the current administration in accepting huge bribes in exchange for the granting of telecommunications licenses.

Regardless, many Indian groups believe that his remarks represent a step back for the diffusion of racial tensions in India.

This post has been revised to reflect the following correction.

CORRECTION: October 7, 2011

The October 5 post "Harvard Economist Accused of 'Spreading Enmity Between Communities'" misidentified the Janata Party's prominence in Indian politics.

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