"Rushdie row against Indian tradition of argument" | kolkata | Hindustan Times
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"Rushdie row against Indian tradition of argument"

Issues like fundamentalists' protestagainst author Salman Rushdie's visit made real concerns of underdevelopment and poverty faced by Muslims in Bengal take a back seat, economist Amartya Sen said in Kolkata today.

kolkata Updated: Feb 04, 2013 02:14 IST
HT Correspondent

Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen expressed his dissatisfaction over the Muslim groups' reaction to the Salman Rushdie saying that it goes against the tradition of the 'argumentative Indian' and that it amounted to distraction from the real issues of the community.

"If I answer this question, this would become the headline now and that is exactly what I don't want. Yet, I would say that a lot of people, who are enormously disadvantaged, have enormous reasons to complain about other things," Sen said.

He argued that subverting the real issues into a completely different kind of issue and getting offended about something else is distracting attention from the real disadvantage that they face.

"Here, I'm not only speaking about the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes but add to the fact that even in West Bengal, if you look at Muslim groups in terms of the even-handedness of progress, they have not been as privileged," he said.

Arguing that the controversy broke away from the Indian tradition of carrying out constructive argument on religion, Sen said, "Anything that breaks away of the tradition of Indian constructive argumentative position on religion that people have the right not to be offended and, therefore, to say we cannot say those things becomes a vilification because it restricts the communication on human progress."

In a humorous tone, Rushdie said India could think of admiring China with regard to its economic growth but warned against admiring the country in terms of democracy.

He also took a dig at the Left parties for ignoring issues of the poorest of the poor and focusing on the middle-class. "They are fighting for the aam admi. Who are aam admi? They are relatively poorer than the privileged. The Left is crying for hike in cooking gas price, while half of the country does not even have any instrument to cook!"