Amartya Sen & argumentative Indians: Did we get his message?

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It is a great pity that despite being a country which has given birth to several great minds, India as a whole has always remained poor and deprived. It is a pity that the cacophony of the mediocre silences voices that are worthy to be heard. It is a pity that a man of Amartya Sen's callibre is being brushed in political colours when he is stressing some basic concerns.

Prof Amartya Sen has raised a basic concern, not a political point

Professor Sen raised some simple points while giving interview to a news channel the other day. He emphasised on the fact that the Asian model of development had always underscored issues like literacy, education, healthcare including nutrition so that people are enabled to work and have high productive. He said it had started with the Meiji Restoration in Japan in the mid-1980s and these initiatives were backed by intelligent policies. He said the Japanese model was successfully followed by various other east and south-eastern Asian countries. Sen said China, although had made some initial mistakes, but soon corrected it.

amartya sen

He said Chinese spent more than twice than India behind healthcare and stressed that entire story of Asian economic development has been to simultaneously pursue growth and human development and India missed in in that respect.

Professor Sen's failure is that he has not learnt to speak the language of the shortsighted politicians and the half-enlightened media persons who have been deciding everything in terms of Rahul Gandhi vs Narendra Modi debate.

The man has praised welfare initiatives across the political spectrum

Prof Sen clearly said that the food security bill may have many defects but in terms of the larger picture, it is a strong step taken in the right direction. It was shocking to see the rightist twitterati at once started accusing Sen of making political judgment. "when this Corrupt Khangress govt goes, Amartya Sen types will shut their mouth automatically," read one tweet while another said: "... Amartya Sen too is a Congress groupie, nothing else."

If UPA is playing a poll gimmick, how can Prof Sen be held responsible for that?

The critics of Sen complained that he was supporting a bill which would lead to India's slide and some even said he would be held morally responsible for all the UPA scams. If Prof Sen is backing a bill so that the groundwork for nutrition and human welfare can be laid, what is the big issue in that?

If the bill can not deliver and cause more problems, there is always the scope to discuss it further in the Parliament to improve it. But the continuous disruption of the Parliament is keeping all possibilities close for a better future. If the Nobel Laureate has slammed the Opposition for stalling the Parliament and said such act would be responsible for the deaths of children due to malnourishment, he is absolutely right.

Prof Sen has spoken about the social philosophy that underlines the initiative

All those who are targetting the economist and mocking his credentials, should understand that the man has spoken about the social philosophy behind the bill and not appeasing any political lobby. A few days ago, it was the same Prof Sen who had criticised the current Left politics in the country for failing to highlight issues that are actually related to the poor. And besides, he also praised the Chhattisgarh government for passing a food security bill last year.

It is a tragedy that we have reduced everything today into Congress-BJP debate with a pro-elite tilt. [See the interview where he explains why the focus today is more on issues that do not touch the maximum number of people].

Govt is for the people, not parties: Prof Sen has given this message

If a government is trying to bring a bill to address the issues of the poor, no matter which party leads it, the Opposition raises a storm and everything else takes place apart from a constructive discussion on how to go about it. Prof Sen said it is important that we get over the divisive party politics and find a way together. Is that a wrong observation?

If the fathers of our Constitution were only concerned with stifling the opponent's voice, then our democratic structure would have collapsed long ago. Not all bills and laws that have seen the light of the day in India till today have been perfect and it is one of the high points of democracy that it always gives an opportunity to rectify things.

India, it may sound unfortunate, has increasingly started to witness ways in which a banana republic functions. And it is even a bigger shock that people are targetting Amartya Sen on political lines, instead of understanding what he had to say. Prof Sen can also be wrong but he has every right to express his mind. It doesn't mean he has to be dealt with through strong reaction.

Prof Sen and the argumentative Indians

Prof Sen knows it well as well. The author of The Argumentative Indian, he openly disapproves of the tendency to stall the Parliament, saying it threatens the very political system about which we feel so proud before the world.

But who cares? We love to dump our pride. Both out democracy and Prof Sen are the nation's pride and both are being abused at the moment.

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