With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh by his side, Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen today said he did not approve of India's policy on Myanmar.
"I do not agree with your policy on Burma. In a democratic country like India, I can say this to the Prime Minister," he said while giving a lecture on 'Centrality of Literacy' in the capital.
Singh, an economist like Sen, smiled when the Nobel Laureate made the comments.
Sen's forthright comments on India's relations with Myanmar came when he took the floor after Singh had addressed the function
The comments came close on the heels of India hosting Myanmar military ruler General Than Shwe last week.
Shwe faces global flak for not allowing democracy to take root in the country where pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been barred from contesting elections slated for this year. India has been engaging Shwe's government maintaining that it was in its vital interest.
Sen also drew a distinction between the ideals of the late Chinese President Mao Zedong and the action of Maoists in India.
Mao had promoted basic education in China which augmented the economic development of the country. But the Maoists in India are affecting the basic education structure in states like West Bengal, Sen said.
Singh said literacy is central to social and economic development. No modern industrialised nation has less than 80 per cent literacy rate, he said.
Singh said the goal for his government is to make India literate and reduce the gender gap in literacy.