He must help make Indian public opinion in a morally upright and forthright manner!
Prof.Amartya Sen is a great thinker. As he often calls (consciously or unconsciously?)he is a great argumentative Indian! Now, in his latest article (The Hindu 14th February 2011) he writes on “Growth and other concerns”. The gist of the article is about comparing the economic growth of India and China, the GDP of the two countries. This is a subject that fascinates many, from the visiting Americans to various experts, though in our view, Indians themselves are not particularly excited about such debates.
Of course, India has a great many economists, amateur to veterans, among the latter there is a small army led by of course by our Prime Minister himself! Of course, these “officials” or official economists don’t openly talk or write. We often wonder why our economists don’t write at all. Have we ever read any one article by our Prime Minister or others like Montek Singh Ahluwalia?
Anyway, here in the said articles makes this observation.GDP is no measure of the wellbeing of the individuals or of the people as a whole. This is Sen’s specialty. In his view, as he argues here also, Sen highlights, how Bangladesh is ahead of India in many other indicators, infant mortality,under-5 mortality in Bangladesh is 52 while in India it is 66 and so on. Life expectancy in Bangladesh is 66.p while in India it is 64.9 and so on. Of course the various great many indicators shows, in Sen’s view, India is lagging behind even Bangladesh which in superficial view seems to be a poorer country compared with India.
Now, what about China?
Social sector spending in India has gone up and it is a thing to be cheered.”And yet we are still well behind China in many of these fields. China spends nearly twice on healthcare, 2.9 per cent of GDP while in India it is about 1.1 per cent and so on. Also a higher per capita income in China.
But then he digresses and goes on to talk something else and we don’t get to know where India comes in comparison with China.
This we consider is very unfair of Sen to do. Sen is always a bit equivocal on many sensitive issues and he is very diplomatic, if we say so, when it comes to the Left in India, the Maoists, the Left in Bengal and the mess they had created there and also Sen totally shies away when he wants to comment on the policies pursued his friend and former colleague Dr.Manmohan Singh and his government.
Also when it comes to China too Sen shies away. Of course, one reason is his eminence and he is an honored guest with both the governments of India and China. He has to visit them often and as such he has to be careful what he has got to say on sensitive issues like freedoms, governance, international perceptions and much else, like human rights, democracy and freedom of the citizens, freedom of the individuals and the very many issues like war and peace etc.
Sen hasn’t commented on the jailing of the Nobel Peace winner of this year in China and Sen’s silence is a slap on the face of the thousands of admirers of Sen and his intellectual contributions.
What is the point of being a great intellectual when you can’t open your mouth on such highly damaging issues like freedoms and human rights or for that matter for the high corruption scandals in which finds itself right now and the whole world is watching the world’s largest democracy in action?
Sen is very escapist and even we can call him a coward, a moral coward at that. What is the role of a philosopher in the modern world. All his intellectual brilliance pales into a shade when we find that he is not capable of rising to the challenge of a world that is deeply divided into antagonistic violent ideologies and the more fundamental traditional democratic norms of an evolving human civilisation on rational and scientific pursuit, Intellectuals like the late Sir Isaiah Berlin and historian AJP Taylor and even Sir Jules Ayer who were all active when Sen was also active in UK and they were the models of the age.
In his time, Sen had rather sunk into typical Indian academic mindset and he is not even playing the role of a sage and adviser on many critical issues.
He applauds the social activists and NGOs. But he uses some very low-key words like jholawalas. Yes, rightly, people might not take these “do-gooders” very seriously.
Indians are just talkers. They obey authority voluntarily. It comes to them as their nature.
Is this to be traced to our thousand year slavery and defeats?
The British too taught us to become clerks. Sen is the best authority, hopefully to explain this Indian trait. Sen surely must know that India is a democracy, so democratic governance with all its defects means slower economic and social targets, right?
But India stands up, India is sought after, India is a very hopeful nation of youth and much dynamism and innovations.
IT is what we Indians made it exclusively. India is now envied. This is incomparable in a significant way.
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