New Delhi: Public reasoning is critical for a democracy, economist and Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen said today, launching into sharp criticism of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government. In an interview to NDTV at the launch of his book ‘Collective Choice and Social Welfare: Expanded Edition’, Dr Sen condemned the violence on the campus of Delhi University’s Ramjas college, calling it “wholly anti-democratic”.”To say we can’t discuss a certain point of view even before the discussion begins is highly dangerous,” he said.
After clashes between students on Wednesday over an invitation to Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid, accused of sedition over an event last year where anti-India slogans were allegedly raised, junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju said colleges cannot be allowed to become “hub of anti-national activity”.
“Anti-national is a peculiar term to come from a minority government. It shows that there is a level of arrogance there. A 31 per cent vote share certainly does not allow you to label remaining 69 per cent to be anti-national,” Dr Sen said, referring to the BJP’s vote share in 2014 general elections.
On demonetisation – the government’s widely debated drive to scrap large notes in efforts to curb corruption and tax evasion – Dr Sen said it was too early to link BJP’s gains in local polls in Maharashtra and Odisha to the success of the move. “It is very hard to describe demonetisation as beneficial for India as a whole. The benefits of demonetisation are pretty much non-existent,” he added.
Asked whether India should think seriously about Universal Basic Income, Dr Sen said, “Universal Basic Income is like giving cash to beggars on the street. It seems like abdication of responsibility. I don’t think that universal basic income is the best way of thinking about poverty. It’s a way of saying ‘give them cash, get rid of the problem and don’t bother me’.”