05/11/2015 5:35 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

Sonia Gandhi Made Me Quit Rajiv Gandhi Institute, Says Bibek Debroy

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
JAIPUR, INDIA - JANUARY 23: Indian economist Bibek Debroy at session on 'the Conflict of Dharma in the Mahabharata' at the Jaipur Literature festival at Diggi Palace on January 23, 2015 in Jaipur, India. One of the largest literary festival on earth, the Jaipur Literature Festival brings together some of the greatest thinkers and writers from across South Asia and the world. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

While the country is talking about 'rising intolerance' in the country, Niti Aayog member and renowned economist Bibek Debroy says that this isn't a new phenomenon in the country.

"Intolerance has always existed and we will be stupid if we haven't recognized it," the professor at Centre for Policy Research told Times Of India in an interview.

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Debroy mentions several instances where people were not allowed to raise their voices against the UPA government.

The economist says that Jagdish Bhagwati, who is a professor of Economics and law at Columbia University was forced to leave Delhi School of Economics and had to go abroad. "He left DSE because there is a certain prevailing climate of opinion and if you buck that, your life is made uncomfortable," Debroy said in the interview.

In fact, Debroy says Dr Bellikoth Ragunath Shenoy, who was a part of the committee that was examining the second five-year plan, was completely ostracized because he was the only one to oppose it. Thereafter, he couldn't get any job in India and was forced to move to Sri Lanka.

That's not all.

Debroy also says that the Rajiv Gandhi Institute was also not the best place to be. In 2004, Debroy with Loveesh Bhandari did a study on economic freedom rating of states and ranked Gujarat as number one.

All hell broke loose after that. "I got a note from Mrs Gandhi saying anything that the Rajiv Gandhi Institute publishes henceforth be politically vetted. I said this is not acceptable to me. I resigned," he said in the interview.

The economist goes on to say that there has always been intolerance in the intellectual circuit. "Let's not pretend otherwise," he said.

Clearly, freedom of expression has been a major problem in the country.

In a 2011 article for New York Times, Nilanjana Roy wrote--"India certainly allows more freedom of expression than countries like Iraq, Malaysia, Afghanistan, China and North Korea. But the two organizations that rank press freedom, an important indicator of free expression in any society, have consistently ranked India lower than you might expect. India doesn’t even make the top 50 in Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press 2011 ranking: it comes in at number 77, along with Bulgaria and East Timor, behind South Africa, South Korea and Lithuania."

So, whether it's Modi or Nehru--it seems fingers have always been raised on the right to 'freedom and expression'.

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