Amartya Sen Attacks Modi Government For 'Extraordinarily Large' Interference In Academia

07/07/2015 12:18 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST
MANPREET ROMANA via Getty Images
Indian Nobel Laureate in Economics Amartya Sen delivers a lecture at Delhi University in New Delhi, 18 December 2007. Sen spoke on Inequality and Public Services in the university lecture series. AFP PHOTO/ Manpreet ROMANA (Photo credit should read MANPREET ROMANA/AFP/Getty Images)

In a scathing attack on the current regime, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has once again blamed the Modi government for his stepping down as chancellor of Nalanda University in Bihar, and for "extraordinarily large" interference in academic institutions.

Sen, who will soon be replaced by George Yeo, the former foreign minister of Singapore, has written an essay on his exit from Nalanada University in the August issue of the New York Review of Books.

Ahead of its publication, Sen told The Times of India that the government would have held up finances if he had continued at Nalanda.

"I was certainly ousted from Nalanda," the economist said. "Some members of the Board, especially the foreign members, were keen on carrying on the battle for me, but I stepped aside as I did not want to be an ineffective leader."

"Nalanda not a one off incident. Nothing in this scale of interference has happened before," he said. "Every institution where the government has a formal role is being converted into where the government has a substantive role."

The Modi government has denied ousting the Harvard University economist from being chancellor of Nalanda University, and said that Sen had “jumped the gun” by resigning.

READ: Amartya Sen's Letter To Board Members Of Nalanda University

READ: India Denies Ousting Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen from University Role

The Nobel Prize winning economist, who is also a Bharat Ratna awardee, pointed out several instances of government interference in appointments to educational institutions. These include the PMO's rejection of Sandip Trivedi as director of the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, the appointment of Baldev Sharma, an RSS ideologue, as chairman of National Book Trust, and the appointment of Lokesh Chandra, who believes Prime Minister Narendra Modi is God, as head of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations,

"The Delhi IIT Director, Raghunath Shevgaonkar resigned, the IIT Bombay Board chairman, Anil Kakodkar, expressed that he could not help the government in anything in the future," Sen said.

"For the IIMs, they have introduced a bill where instead of having indirect power of withholding the signature, which they did in my case or they did in Trivedi's case, now they would directly like to appoint the director," he said. "Instead of having effective power, this becomes direct control."

READ: Amartya Sen: 'The Failure Of The State Is Continuing In India'

READ: 'I'm Not About To Change My Style And Start Fuming About Bhagwati or Panagariya'

Sen, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in welfare economics in 1998, also expressed concern over cuts in the heath and education budgets. "I have never been anti industry but no country can become an industrial giant with an uneducated and unhealthy labour force," he said.

Sen said that China have everyone in school, and it spends three precent of its GDP on public healthcare, but India has cut its health budget from 1.2 to one percent.

"That has been the Asian pattern of development. You do it together-market economy and the state's role. The market economy needs a complementarity with the public services," he said.

Sen also said the NDA government's land bill is "comprehensively wrong."

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