I am not proud as an Indian, says Amartya Sen on govt’s Kashmir move

Amartya Sen, BJP, saffronisation, Jai Shri Ram, Kashmir, Article 370, The Federal, English news website
Sen has earlier trained his guns at an alleged saffronisation of states for the ruling BJP’s political interests. Photo: PTI File

Nobel laureate Dr Amartya Sen has been a strong critic of the Centre — be it for the government’s moves or its pro-Hindutva stand.

And it’s no surprise that because of this, the decorated economist has faced the ire of saffron leaders.

This time, Dr Sen spoke on the Kashmir issue, “I am not proud as an Indian”. In an interview to NDTV, the economist also criticised the arrest of the mainstream political leaders of the state.

Earlier this month, the central government revoked the special status of Jammu and Kashmir by amending Article 370 of the Constitution and is set to bifurcate the state into two Union territories.

Criticising the move, Dr Sen said, “I don’t think ultimately you will have any resolution in Kashmir without democracy. As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world — where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy — that we lose that reputation on the grounds of action that have been taken.”

Also Read: Kashmir ‘fully integrated’ with India even before Article 370 was dumped

The Nobel laureate said that he feels that Kashmiris have a “legitimate point of view” when it comes to non-Kashmiris buying land in the state, and that it was something for only them to decide.

On the “preventive” arrest of political leaders, he said, “I don’t think you will ever have fairness and justice without hearing the voices of the leaders of the people and if you keep thousands of leaders under restraint and many of them in jail.”

“You are stifling the channel of democracy that makes it a success,” he trained guns at the Centre.

He further criticised the government’s reasoning that the arrests were a “preventive measure”, and turned it down as a “classic colonial excuse”.

“That’s how the British ran the country for 200 years. The last thing I expected when we got our independence… is that we would go back to our colonial heritage of preventive detentions,” he said.

However, this is not the first time that he has criticised the central government and the saffron party. He has earlier trained his guns at an alleged saffronisation of states for the ruling BJP’s political interests.

A month ago, the 85-year-old Nobel laureate triggered a controversy when he said, at a seminar in Kolkata, that the chant ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was not a part of Bengali culture and that it was a recent import that was being used to beat up people.

“It (Jai Shri Ram) is a recent import used as a pretext to assault people,” the economist had said, adding the culture of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was imported to West Bengal to create an atmosphere of divisive politics.

Also Read: For India’s sake, leave Article 35A alone, let Kashmir be

One of the first BJP leaders to counter the economist was Asansol MP Babul Supriyo, who said, in a tweet, that it was Sen’s age speaking and not his mind.

Further criticising the government, the economist had said that since 2014, the year in which the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance came to power after defeating the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government, India has taken a “quantum jump in the wrong direction”, despite being the fastest growing economy.

Dr Sen had also flayed the government’s 10% quota for the economically-weaker sections, saying, “This is a muddled thinking. The muddled thinking may have serious political and economic effects which are seriously questionable.”

He was also critical of demonetisation and the way the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was implemented. Speaking about the noteban, the economist had told India Today, “It was a gigantic mistake, both in terms of its objective of dealing with corruption as well as the objective of one rapid jump of getting into a cashless economy.”

Further, he earlier said that health schemes like Ayushman Bharat do not aim at improving primary healthcare, while maintaining that both the BJP and the Congress had neglected primary healthcare.

Also Read: ‘Jai Shri Ram’ not a Bengali call? Amartya Sen is both right and wrong