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This Harvard Student’s Letter to PM Modi on How to Treat Academia Is Making News

Dear Prime Minister Modi, an Indian studying at Harvard University has a message for you.

Prateek Kanwal, a student studying public policy from Harvard, has penned a powerful open letter in response to PM Modi’s recent remarks at a rally in Uttar Pradesh. In that rally, the Prime Minister derided economists from top educational institutions who predicted a downturn in the economic growth post demonetisation. At one point, he went on to note that “hard work is more powerful than Harvard.”

Prateek, who read these comments, has in turn requested Modi to not disregard the work of think tanks from prestigious institutes across the world. In his letter, published in Scroll, he calls himself a “nationalist” who spent six years as a teacher at a municipal school in India and worked for several non-profit organisations. And as a patriot, he was pushed to make a statement.

He explains that those who study in universities like Harvard are pushed to logically assess pros and cons of any policy that affects society and are trained in “evidence-based learning” approach.

And he also notes that leaders of nations should not alienate experts and ought to welcome different perspectives and viewpoints rather than shunting them.

Photo source: Twitter

He writes, “To develop a country as diverse as India you will need the help of people who bring a different perspective to the table. Mocking economists and credible academic institutions will only isolate us from the world. People like me hope to return to India after graduation and want to join you in your quest to develop the country but such remarks will only push us away.”


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His letter has since gone viral with people taking to social media with many either applauding him or disagreeing with him.

But it is an argument, he says, he is proud to stand by.

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