The Wharton India Economic Forum (WIEF), which has been engulfed in controversies over its keynote speakers, suffered yet another jolt after Mohandas Pai, chairman of Manipal Global, rejected an invitation to deliver a keynote address at the forum in March.
Pai said he was upset at the way India had been treated by a section of the international community at the forum.
WIEF has been hit by a string of keynote speakers dropping out, after its controversial decision to first invite Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to the forum, and the rescind the invitation.
Pai said his decision to snub the WIEF invitation was influenced by both the Modi episode, and by India’s shabby treatment by a section of the international community, particularly by Italy’s betrayal over their refusal to hand over the two Marines accused of killing two Indian fishermen.
He also expressed his dismay at Pakistan’s resolution of Afzal Guru and the capture of 60 Indian fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy, which he said was also a factor in his refusal to attend the forum.
Pai was scheduled to address the forum on March 23. He is the latest in the list of panelists and sponsors who have opted out of the forum, after Wharton’s controversial decision to rescind its invitation to Modi.
Gautam Adani from the Adani Group, and Atul Nishar from Hexaware Technologies have dropped off as key sponsors of the WIEF.
Columnist Sadanand Dhume, who is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, an American think-tank, withdrew from the conference.
Dr Preetha Reddy, managing director of Apollo Hospitals, and Dr Ashwin Naik, CEO and co-founder of Vaatsalya Healthcare too, are no longer among the listed speakers at the forum.