Unions should be constructive partners in growth: Amartya Sen | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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Unions should be constructive partners in growth: Amartya Sen

Unions should be constructive partners in the growth of institutions to play a meaningful role in society, according to Nobel laureate and eminent economist Amartya Sen.

kolkata Updated: Aug 06, 2009 10:54 IST

Unions should be constructive partners in the growth of institutions to play a meaningful role in society, according to Nobel laureate and eminent economist Amartya Sen.

"The life of nearly everybody is affected by the activities of unions, be it primary schools, or other institutions. The unions must play a meaningful role," Sen said while delivering the third Penguin Annual Lecture on "Justice and India" here Wednesday evening.

Dwelling on the role of trade unions in guaranteeing justice to the workers, Sen said they tend to generate two divergent views. "Some say unions are misused. They should not be there. Those who support unions say there is no need for alterations, however narrow they may be."

"I claim that unions should be a kind of constructive partner to the organisations," he said.

Sen regretted the basic issues of people like social deprivation and lack of rudimentary facilities were not being highlighted by political parties.

"Justice demands removal of this tremendous deprivation from the world we live in... But what is amazing is the politicians' quiet acceptance without a little murmur of the persistent deprivation of facilities... the social deprivation," he said.

According to the world renowned academic, continued child malnourishment, absence of basic schooling, gender inequity, maternal malnourishment, lack of medical facilities and deficiency in providing essential services constitute the real issues.

"But the stress is on issues like pollution problems or land acquisition or agitation against the India-US Civil nuclear deal," he said.

Participating in an interaction shortly after the lecture, Sen lauded the mature way in which the residents of Mumbai reacted to the terrorist strike last November.

Drawing a contrast between the incidents in the aftermath of the Babri mosque demolition of 1992 and the Mumbai terror attack, he said: "When the Babri Masjid incident happened, we were unprepared. We did not have any opportunity to regroup.

"But after Mumbai everyone was protesting against foreign terrorists coming to India and not on domestic factors. And I know for certain that as we make more and more use of reason, it matures us."

Sen also expressed disappointment over Gujarat -- the scene of the devastating communal riots in 2002 -- not voting the way the rest of India did in the 2009 general elections.