Nobel laureate Amartya Sen wants Britain to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi this week, but also to use the occasion to question him on recent events in India that have caused some concern about tolerance in society.
Speaking at the London School of Economics on Friday at a launch event for his book, ‘The Country of First Boys’, Sen said he voted against Modi but he did not expect the situation to take “such naked a form as it has taken” under his government.
“Four people have been killed for eating beef and lot of people have been given an absolutely hellish time in their lives”, Sen told a packed audience hall, and referred to alleged attacks on academic freedom from the administration.
Stating that Modi should be welcomed as the ‘legitimately elected prime minister of India’, Sen said: “The question is, what question you put to Modi. If you are only writing, saying things which are full of praise (during the visit)…”.
“In America, when they welcomed him, Mr Obama wrote a piece on Modi being one of 50 most powerful people in the world. That is a piece of as sycophantic hagiography that I have seen”.
“So when he comes here, welcome him, but question him: why is this happening, why is that happening. These questions he can’t leave behind and provide a different persona in the world, altogether different from the way the country is being treated”, he added.
According to Sen, it was “difficult to give high marks” to the Modi government since it had not carried out badly needed economic reforms and removed regulations. Businessmen, he claimed, continued to “go mad” trying to comply with regulations that Modi promised to eliminate.
Modi is scheduled to arrive here on a three-day visit on 12 November in the first prime ministerial visit to Britain in nearly a decade.