New Delhi, July 10 (Indian Express): Nobel laureate and renowned Indian economist Amartya Sen on Sunday criticized the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government, stating that India has taken a “quantum jump in the wrong direction” since 2014.
“Things have gone pretty badly wrong… It has taken a quantum jump in the wrong direction since 2014. We are getting backwards in the fastest-growing economy,” Sen said and added that India is the second worst in the subcontinent after Pakistan.
The economist was speaking during the launch of Bharat Aur Uske Virodhabhas’, the Hindi edition of his book ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradiction’ that he co-authored with development economist Jean Dreze.
“The economy on a down slide,” Sen said. “The country is now second worst in the subcontinent. Of the six countries in the region, India was the second best after Sri Lanka 20 years ago. Now, it is the second worst.”
“Pakistan has managed to shield us from being the worst.” Sen said.
The government has also deflected from issues of inequalities and the caste system. He pointed out that there is a whole group of people, those who clean lavatories or sewage with their hands whose demands and needs have been neglected.
Highlighting the recent report of a Dalit youth who was whipped for asking a salary hike from the manager of a petrol pump in Madhya Pradesh, he said they (Dalits) are going around without any kind of certainty about their next meal, healthcare or education.
Taking a dig at the BJP-led government, the economist added that during freedom struggle it was difficult to see that a political battle could be won by playing up the Hindu identity, but that has changed now.
“But, that has happened. Which is why, at this time, the whole issue of Opposition unity is so important,” the 84-year-old economist said.
“It is not a battle of one entity against the other (or) Mr Modi against Mr Rahul Gandhi, it is an issue of what India is,” Sen added
Commenting on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious healthcare scheme–Ayushmann Bharat, the development economist and activist Jean Dreze termed the soon-to-be launched scheme a “hoax” as it was actually not big as it was being claimed to be.
“The budget (for the scheme) for this year is Rs.20,000 million crore. Even if it is spent, it’s less than 20 rupees per person,” he said.
It is projected as health insurance for 500 million people, but it is virtually nothing, Dreze said, who helped draft the first version of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).