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India, Pak in focus in Amartya-Miliband 'conversation'

world Updated: Apr 20, 2009 19:38 IST
H S Rao
H S Rao
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From the "precarious" state of democracy in Pakistan to India's role in UN Security Council, Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband interacted on almost everything under the sun in a unique 'conversation' at London Book Fair on Monday.

The interactive session, billed as an event in which the top British diplomat will be "interviewing" the leading economist, attracted some 50 journalists from 26 countries.

The focus of the discussions was on the sub-continent, with Miliband describing India as "an important country for the future of the world" and maintaining that Britain has been a strong supporter of New Delhi becoming a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"How would you think India will play a role if it becomes a permanent member," he asked Sen.

"It depends on India how it would play its cards. I am not a great agitator for it (the UNSC membership)," Sen said, but added that "there is merit in India's case and it could make a major contribution to the UNSC."

As discussions turned to Pakistan, the 75-year-old economist said democracy is in a "precarious" state there.

Pakistan had "bad luck" because in 31 out of the 61 years of its existence as an independent country, it was under military rule, he said. Pakistan has also suffered because of the breakup of East Pakistan in the 1971 Liberation War, he felt.