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Secularism Often Used As A Bad Word, Democracy Next?’: Amartya Sen

KOLKATA:  Noted economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen said today that the country is in a situation in which “a sense of division is being cultivated along communal lines.” The situation has led to secularism being used as a bad word. Democracy and liberty could be next, he said.

“Right now, in the country there is a sense of division that is being cultivated along communal lines, so much so the word secularism is often used as a bad word. It is quite extraordinary,” he said. “I am waiting for the day democracy would be used as a bad word and liberty would be used as a bad word,” Prof Sen said, speaking at the Netaji Research Institute in Kolkata on the occasion of Subhash Chandra Bose’s birth anniversary.

Prof Sen said the present government is not doing enough in dealing with the social inequalities that Netaji was the first to see. “I don’t think the independent governments of India, I am on record on that, did enough to pursue the demands of equity and justice and I think the present government is doing even less in dealing with that.”

The discussion over the circumstances of Netaji’s death lends itself to “petty minded politics” that takes the focus away from Bose’s vision, that Prof Sen said “is very badly needed in every sphere of life.”

Speaking on the declassification of the Netaji files and expectations about what they would reveal, Prof Sen said, “The whole idea that somehow it would come out that the leadership of Congress had something some special role in the end of Subhash Chandra Bose’s life would be a rather peculiar story…the only explanation would be it fits into the politics of the day, the divisive politics of India and we have to be careful about that too.”

“My final point is even though it is needed for equity, justice educating the entire population, providing health care for all, all the kind of things that made Subhash Chandra Bose feel that the leadership of an appropriate kind has to be part and parcel of an independence movement. These things remain very important today,” Prof Sen said.

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