Embroiled in controversy over cancelling its invitation to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, organisers of the annual Wharton India Economic Forum on Thursday announced that no media organisations would be allowed to cover the event except for TV Asia.
The student-run WIEF did not give reasons for such an unprecedented decision, except for confirming that no media outlet would be allowed to cover the day-long event in Philadelphia on March 23.
“Yes, that is right, no other press (print or electronic) is allowed," WIEF told PTI after it informed the press in an email that TV Asia has been given the exclusive rights to the event.
"The Wharton India Economic Forum has had a long standing relationship with TV Asia and they have been loyal supporters. This year, we have made a decision to enter an exclusive media partnership with TV ASIA whereby they get exclusive access to our panel content as well as speakers and take the relationship forward, making it even stronger," said the email sent on behalf of the Chairs of the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum 2013.
"We thank you for your immense support in making the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum 2013 a successful conference. We are looking forward to stimulating discussions on the unique challenges that India faces, and possible solutions," it said.
"Our lineup of speakers this year includes some of the most esteemed luminaries from across business, media and entertainment, and professional service," the email added.
This is for the first time in the 17-year history of the prestigious Wharton India Economic Forum that media would not be given access to its events on March 23.
WIEF is an annual student-run India-centric conference hosted by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Since its inception 16 years ago, WIEF is one of the largest and most prestigious India-focused business conferences and provides a platform for thought leaders to discuss the opportunities present to India and the challenges that need to be addressed.
Meanwhile, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has declared March 23, 2013 as ‘India Day’ in the City of Philadelphia, in honour of the 17th Wharton India Economic Forum, WIEF announced on its website.
In a related development, Americans for Free Speech -- coalition of community members and activists -- have announced their decision to hold a peaceful protest and parade in front of the event venue on March 23 against the WIEF's decision on Modi.