By Mr. Nupur Das:
And yet again, the heights of intolerance have been amply displayed in the Indian society. Last week, the renowned economist from India, Noble laureate Amartya Sen in an interview at one of the leading national news channel expressed his views that he was simply not in favour of Narendra Modi becoming the prime minister of the country, as he did not have secular credentials. He was not impressed by the much hyped Gujarat model of development where it has just emphasized on infrastructural growth rather than the overall development of people and equity, addressing problems in the health and education sector. He didn’t prefer the development model that has been exemplified in Gujarat as the next one in the entire country. Prof Sen, later on clarified that he won’t take back his comments and not even regret what he had said earlier regarding his opinion on Modi. He was just putting forth his views on that issue which any individual in a democratic society with the right to free speech and expression is entitled to.
This was met with severe criticism from the people of the Modi camp who are obsessed with his development methods in Gujarat. Subsequently, the extent to which these right wing fundamentalists can go was out in the open when they attacked Sen, not even sparing his private life and his daughter. Firstly, BJP’s Chandan Misra criticized Prof. Sen vehemently and also demanded that Amartya Sen be stripped off his Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country which was awarded to him in 1999 during the reign of the NDA government. Things didn’t stop here, (for worse) the Modi supporters(who could not withstand Modi’s criticism) and other goons to be precise, were seen sharing pictures of Amartya Sen along with his alleged daughter ( which was actually a morphed picture of a scantily dressed model) on social media with a message for Amartya Sen to take notice on the deeds of his daughter.
What seriously concerns me now, is the extreme intolerant attitude that was displayed by these right wing parties and their supporters. Their moral policing, regarding a woman’s freedom to choose her profession and attire, is highly regressive (even though it was not the picture of Sen’s daughter). A person who had made political statements and expressed his views was not spared a derogatory intrusion into his personal life. Now, one can simply predict how and where this nation which has a history of tolerance will be heading towards under such a fascist government if by any chance comes to power. It’s clear that our free speech and expression under those regimes, if it ever comes to power, will be suppressed in a very brutal manner.
The issue here is not Amartya Sen’s approval of Gujarat model of development or if Prof. Sen was right, it’s not about critics like Jagdish Bhagwati, who came to counter immediately after Sen’s remarks on Modi. Everyone has the right to form their opinions and choose the development models for the good of the society at large. A healthy debate on any issue, on the path of development adopted, whether by BJP or Congress or any other party, is welcome with proper facts, reasoning and logic. But problems arise when people deny others’ right to speak and turn a deaf ear towards others’ opinions. These incidents displays the level of intolerance and moral policing these right wing parties will show to the masses when they will come to power and especially when their leader projected to be the next prime minister declares himself as a Hindu nationalist, which is a serious threat to not only the minority of the country but to each and every responsible citizens.