WITH THE HIGHEST RESPECT TO PROF. AMARTYA SEN- WHY IS IT RELEVANT NOW- BIHAR CONNECTION
This blog was published when the Nobel Laurate pitted Nitish against Modi. The clock turned a full circle. Modi showed Nitish his place. He did not learn nor Amartya Sen.
I could see what a Nobel Economist could see. The reason is I am a poor Indian, he is a rich foreigner with Indian Citizenship and a Barkha and a Burkha of semi-knowledge about what India is.
I am an Indian. Hence, I felt it my right and my choice to address you personally. I am fully Indian, as I was born here, I was brought up here, I was educated here, I worked here,I grew old here and I am going to die here. Besides, I saw poverty. I knew poverty. I lived in poverty. I knew what empty stomach was. I knew what it felt like to go to college with half - filled stomach. I knew what it felt to spend college days with two or three pairs of dresses,with no sandals. I knew what it felt like to walk three miles daily in heat and rain to study, with no money to buy an umbrella. There were many people who suffered more through ages and there are still those suffering more than me. I do not know any other economics than the economics of poverty. I did not study economics nor politics. I saw it not through my eyes but through my poverty. I knew what it felt to excel in everything but not being able to beat poverty. Hence, I like people who smell poverty. I deride those who sell poverty for votes. I like people who attack poverty. I don't like those who mock poverty with their “Rs.12/- a full meal or Rs.5/- a full meal” statements. I repeat I am a pure, poor Indian. I knew how it felt to grow very fast in life and be a 'blued eyed boy' in the eyes of each and every one and at the same time draw their envy and bad blood. I knew how it felt being pulled down the ladder by jealous bigots, but rise like Phoenix from my ashes. This is where I like Mr. Modi. Detractors are not able to detract his vision. Whether I will vote for Mr. Modi or not I will not reveal. Because India has a secret ballot system as per electoral practices. And it does not have a system of rejection too. Hence, if I love my democracy, I will not say I will not vote for a certain individual too. I respect the practices of my land. And I proudly claim I am an Indian. It is not an issue to be discussed in TV studios. It is not an issue to be discussed on Skype with (self) celebrated Journalists. It is not an issue in the public domain to be tweeted by the said Journalist that some one said so and so. I did not hear it and hence cant vouch as to the veracity of her claim. But the fact is, people by now know whom you will not vote for, which even a layman in India never tells in public. To whom you will vote is still a matter of surmise, I am happy. I am also surprised to note another noted economist voicing similar opinion, that he won't vote for Modi or Rahul. Do two opinions and two votes decide the fate of India, one of the largest democracies? What happens to millions of voters and their opinions?
You are a Nobel Laureate. To that extent I have the highest respect and regard for you. For, Alfred Nobel was very noble. I am lucky to have seen the hall where these Nobel Prizes are given. It is a dream for many people, to get the Nobel Prize. You lived that dream. I bow to your wisdom. You are also a Bharath Ratna. Those who confer the award might not be as noble as Nobel. (Though I consider the man who gave the same to you as much noble as Nobel himself). I respect you, with the greatest respect to your erudition and wisdom, for the fact that you received it from such a great visionary. But, so many did not receive it also. Mahatma Gandhi did not. Indira Gandhi did not. They too worked with the poor and for the poor. Whether you feel the pride of getting the award , I do not know nor venture to surmise. You took offense at a gentleman like you, an Indian citizen like you (but did not share his vote preference to public, though) for asking the Government to take back the award. India is a free country. Each one can air his opinion as long as it is not offensive. I do not support his view either. But after we saw you in the past one week in Indian TV studios we, many Indians feel you deserve it, the Bharath Ratna , too.
I heard you say Gujarat model would not work for India as the Bihar or Kerala model. As I said, I did not know the economics of it much. The line of argument that you wanted to take forward from petty politicians in India was that Gujarat was already prosperous, then why is this great propaganda? Or inclusive growth was not assured. You must be knowing, as you claim you to be an Indian citizen, that nine years back Andhra Pradesh in the South was very prosperous too. It might not be as much as Gujarat, but it was very prosperous. It was not one of the “BIMARU” states. Why don't you compare the ground situation in these two states today? Let me not break my head with Planning Commission statistics or indices/indexes they roll out now and then to tell us that everything is rosy hiding the thorns behind the roses under a 'veil'. I do not respect these mandrains as they do not know the value of Rs.33/- in an Urban Indian Center. Half a Dollar or little more? Half a Kilo fine rice costs more in Mumbai. Half a kilo tomato costs more in Mumbai. One kilo onions costs more in Mumbai. We do not get half a kilo peanuts with that money in Mumbai. It is peanuts or less. But our planning commission loses the fact at election time. It is a different issue. So if I say AP today is not prosperous they roll out statistics that they only understand or don't understand (I don't know) saying AP is more prosperous today. But people see it as they are poorer there.
You are a noble person as you won the Nobel Prize in a subject that many fear to enter, the “Economics”. I respect you for it. You are an honorable person. I bow for it. But you preferred to discuss the already murky political scene in India, by addressing select audience who never smelled poverty, but for a few. I certainly did not like it though it is your personal preference. ( I am a petty Indian, but still an Indian and I am proud to say “I”). You seem to be driving home the point that such and such a person is not preferable in your view to be the PM of India and the reason given by you is, simply laughable. I do not go into it as I am sensible enough not to tag religion or economics with politics. Politicians have a right and duty to speak economics and discuss it. But the other way round, many economists do not do it in public. Even our most dignified PM keeps silent on politics though it is his duty to do so in order to rule the country. That you chose to discuss politics, it was your personal choice.
It seems you did not stop short of not liking a particular person to be PM, but you expressed preference to another leader. In your view his model woks for India. In India these two are not the only leaders that showed high acumen in administration. But all can not be PMs. A leader is not only the one who can rouse the aspirations of masses and work for their uplift but involve them through his leadership in their own growth. A leader is not the one who keeps a Sphinx like silence when the country is in turmoil but still quotes a famous poet to say his silence speaks more words than all the noise. There is no proof anyone with two healthy ears in India ever heard the silent words. It is a different subject.
But the leader whom you vouched for acted no differently. When there were severe floods in a State in India and the people from the whole country were wailing at the loss of lives of their loved ones (including from his own State) he was seen mostly in TV studios discussing why a particular leader was not suitable for PM post. He was seen discussing murky politics at the time of an unprecedented tragedy. Do you still feel he is a fit PM candidate? When 23 children died in his own state after eating “Mid day meal” he hid his face under the deep sands like an “ostrich”and did not feel it appropriate to go round studios telling people not to panic and that he was in-charge of the State whose model he trumpets day in and day out and economists and petty politicians play the side show. After nine days he surfaces (not in public view) but in a closed door party meeting telling the world through them that he smelled conspiracy by the opposition without as much disclosing why and what made him to come to such a conclusion. Do you still want him as PM of the country? Our respected PM never called anybody 'a conspirator'.
I learned from your life profile that your father was Chairman of West Bengal Public Service Commission, your grand father was VC of Viswa Bharathi University and your mother was the first cousin of the first Chief Election Commissioner of India, MP and Ex-Minister. ( I got it from Wiki and cant vouch for veracity). So you are as much an Indian as any Indian is, more so because of the high positions your people occupied under various Governments by their sheer knowledge and capability and not by their political affiliation. But your career in Economics was mostly abroad except a brief and the most applauded stint at Delhi School of Economics. You are one of the brightest economists the world has seen. But the nagging question in the minds of Indians today is “How much do you have a sense of the ground reality in India, when you spent an entire life in Foreign Universities, deeply drowned in books and teaching and bringing out more and more bright economists into the world every year?” Is it better than a Modi or a Nitish Kumar or than any ordinary Indian that struggles day in and day out to buy half a kg. of Tomato?
It is reported in Hindustan Times (I repeat as published). “ Did I like Rahul Gandhi? Yes, he is from my College. When I talk to him, I enjoy it ...He might be an excellent alternative, but I haven't decided yet.” I leave it to your better judgment what the millions of voters will have to decide if one or two eminent personalities decide who should lead India.
I still would have had the same grand respect for you even if you discussed your political economics vis a vis two states or economic politics of India without naming any names. But still I carry the highest respect for your erudition as I have it for our erudite PM. It starts and ends there,
With the greatest respects,