01/22/2014, 00.00
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Amartya Sen: New Indian government must be secular, not fundamentalist

by Nirmala Carvalho
Speaking at the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF), the Nobel Prize winner for economics talked about the upcoming general elections, calling for "party that is pro-market and pro-business to come to power and doesn't prioritise one religion over another". He also urged the media to be more responsive to the "poor and marginalised".

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Nobel Prize winner in economics Amartya Sen wants a secular, not a fundamentalist party, to lead India's government. He also wants quality education for children, and media that are more responsible and attentive to the needs of the poor.

Last Saturday, the famous economist spoke at the Jaipur Literature Festival, now in its seventh edition. In his address, he expressed 'seven wishes', highlighting some of India's major challenges, to which he offered some possible solutions.

The first one concerns the upcoming national election in May. "I want to see a party that is pro-market and pro-business to come to power and doesn't prioritise one religion over another," Sen said in a veiled reference to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the past, the economist had openly criticised the BJP, the Hindu nationalist party that supports fundamentalist groups like the Sangh Parivar, which carried out attacks against minorities.

Speaking about education and the new generations, the Nobel Prize laureate went on to say. "We seriously need to cultivate classical education like the arts, language and culture in our country. There are [already] many students who go for science and technology".

To achieve this, "We need decent schools, children should be fully immunised, every home should have a toilet and good education in a sustainable environment for all".

Equally important, the "Media should be more responsible in reporting about people who make India, reach out to poor and marginalised people and not just write about glamour," he said.

"Yet," he added, "reading the papers and hearing broadcasts you would tend to think that it is subsidy for the poor - food and employment - that strains India's public resources, even though two to three times as much governmental funds are spent in subsidizing the better off."

One example of this situation was the July 2012 blackout, when "The media made such a fuss - quite rightly in its context - about 600 million people not having power on a day in July two years ago when there was a terrible administrative bungle about power supply, but neglected to report the fact that 200 million of those 600 million people never had any power at all - a perpetual black-out - because they were not even connected to electricity."

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