NEW DELHI: Nobel Laureate economist Amartya Sen today expressed skepticism about Prime Minister Narendra Modi's idea of secularism, asserting he would like to see "more action" in reaching out to the minorities.
Sen also hit out at the Modi government over its "interference" in academia, saying it has never happened on this scale now and rued the "cuts" in the country's health and education budget. "The academic interferance that we see now has never really happened in India on this scale." 81-year old Sen replied in the affirmative when asked whether he was still skeptical about Modi's secular credentials after his articulation of secularism as "India First" and "Sabka saath, sabka vikas" (harmony with all, development for all).
"Yes, the short answer is yes," he told India Today TV channel. During the 2014 Lok Sabha poll campaign, Sen had said he would not like to see the Gujarat Chief Minister as the country's Prime Minister. In controvesial comments, Sen was then quoted as saying, "As an Indian citizen I don't want Modi as my PM, he has not done enough to make the minorities feel safe."
Sen today said he stood by his reservations to Modi donning the mantle of prime ministership. "There is no particular reason to change it because the fear that I had that some of the worst aspects of the previous government, neglect of basic education, neglect of healthcare, neglect of nourishment would continue and intensify which is actually happening, in the budget as cut in funds...And on top of that the problem of secularism would become more intense under the 'hindutva rule'. And particularly given the Gujarat riots controversy, my confidence in his(Modi's) ability to be a great defender of secular values wasn't there," Sen said.
Stating that he would like to see more action in terms of reaching out to the minorities, Sen said it should be a situation where there is an end to episodes like "ghar wapsi", church attacks and giving preference to to "Hindus point of view" in the work of Indian Council of Historical research...Then I think that would be an appropriate claim( on upholding secularism," he said.
Modi said it is the duty of the state to protect every religion not to allow things to happen like what happened in 2002 Gujarat riots.