15 June, 2021

In Non-Alarmist Mode

Sen says he worries for a nuclear India mired in cultural antagonisms

In Non-Alarmist Mode

AMARTYA Sen is an intellectual in the tradition of Bertrand Russell. Just as Russell wrote voluminously on philosophy, economics and politics and championed social causes throughout his life, Sen's concerns too stretch beyond economics to a consciousness of his duties as an Indian citizen and a critical assessment of certain aspects of Indian culture.

Among Sen's foremost criticisms is the rise of Hindu activism and the BJP's cultural nationalism. "By taking a simply Hindu view, India is belittled," he told Outlook. "All the major world religions other than Islam were already well represented in India well before the last millennium. It would be impossible to understand the nature of Indian culture today without seeing it in integrated terms. I'm a democrat and I defend the BJP's right to be in government. But I would never vote for it." Not only was the greatest Indian emperor in the pre-Muslim period not a Hindu but a Buddhist (Ashoka), there were other great non-Hindu emperors like Harsha. Bengal, in...

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