Seven things Amartya Sen told Sharmila Tagore

Why do more young people read stories titled “Seven things Amartya Sen told Sharmila Tagore“?

For the same reason that more young people are interested in knowing the pet name of Hrithik Roshan than in politics or policy. Which is, because “the stupidity and the villainy of human beings is overemphasised and the ignorance is underemphasised.”

Amarya Sen, the Nobel laureate, was in conversation with Sharmila Tagore, Rabindranath Tagore‘s descendant, at the Calcutta literary meet on Saturday.

He also said, among other things:

1. One-third of Indians don’t have an electricity connection. When the newspapers hollered last year that 600 million Indians were “plunged” into darkness, what they didn’t mention was that 200 million out of those 600 million never had any power. So they were not specifically “plunged” that night, they are plunged into darkness every night.

2.  India is the only country in the world that is trying to have a health transition on the basis of a private health care that doesn’t exist. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world. We have an out-of-pocket system, occasionally supplemented by government hospitals but the whole trend in the world has moved towards public health systems. Even the United States has come partly under the so-called Obama Care.

3. India is a country where there is more open defecation than any other country for which data exists. Forty-eight per cent of households in India do not have toilets. That’s larger than any other country. Chad comes slightly close but no other country. The percentage of homes without toilets is 1 per cent in China, it’s only 9 or 10 per cent even in Bangladesh.

4. There is so much to be learnt from China in terms of economic growth. But not in terms of democracy… China spends 2.7 per cent of its GDP on public health care — governmental expenditure. We spend 1.2 per cent. When Jamshedji Tata was setting up Jamshedpur, he felt it’s not only an industry, it’s a municipality. He felt I have to provide free education, free health care for everyone, not only my employees but anyone in the neighbourhood.

5. China wouldn’t be a country to learn about democracy from but Brazil could be, Mexico could be. Good efficient public services with cooperation of the unions is very important for any country and since 1989 Brazil has transformed itself with that. In the same period, India has risen in per capita income but its position in living standards has declined. In South Asia, we were the second best, after Sri Lanka, and now we are the second worst, only ahead of Pakistan. I think Bangladesh has overtaken India in most of these categories, except per capita income.

6. In the 2011 February budget, the government had put in a very modest import tax on gold and diamond imports. And there was such a lot of protest that they had to withdraw that. Because that’s an organised group; a group of underfed kids is not.

7. When people say that this (rape) happens in India, it doesn’t happen in Bharat, they completely overlook the fact that Dalit girls have been violated, molested and raped over the years and there still isn’t adequate protection against that.

By the way, Hrithik Roshan’s pet name, which used to be Duggu, is H-Ro.

Read the full story: The Telegraph, Calcutta

Photograph: courtesy The Times of India

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18 Responses to “Seven things Amartya Sen told Sharmila Tagore”

  1. 4thaugust1932 Says:

    India is an uncivilized nation.
    We lobby Obama Administration to Direct New Delhi Regime To Create An Independent Nation For 300 Million India’s Untouchables As Per US Congress Resolution 139.


  2. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Bring the British back. Otherwise there is no hope.

  3. Iqbal SINGH Says:

    Over centuries compulsions got transformed into tolerance.

  4. dr ramesh Says:

    Few more,
    Glen Maxwell, a budding international cricketer is offered million dollars by a team owned by Indian corporate.
    Next day,they meet finance minister and ask to waive off 10000 crore loan taken by them because of losses.

    Drug Mafia runs unstopped in a many parts of India, night clubs, rave parties, lounge bars near colleges openly sell drugs, a middle class girl studying in P U in mangalore commits suicide due to drug craving, when people protest against, they are called moral police.

  5. Anonymous Guy Says:

    4thaugust1932, and you think the nation of India’s ‘untouchables’ will be civilized?

  6. Sunder Says:

    Last year, in an interview/article in Outlook magazine,Amartya Sen was singing such fulsome praises of the “great achievements” of Manmohan_ Montek regime that lots of readers wrote back in rebuttal…. Obviously he’s since seen the light of the day.

  7. harkol Says:

    Well, the likes of ‘simple’ton would do well to dwell on how their favorite family has failed India so miserably. IMF has projected that India will fall behind in GDP growth, even behind Bangladesh this year!

    All thanks to a crooked, entrenched, pseudo-socialist, pseudo-secular family that has become the very defintion of ‘vested interest’.

  8. 4thaugust1932 Says:

    * 7000 people in India die of hunger every day.
    * 75% rapists walk-free from Indian Courts.

  9. Melanie Says:

    Don’t know if Amartya Sen meant what he said! If he did, good for him!

  10. PulakesiTheSecondLast Says:

    Dr Ramesh I am offended by your incessant ignorance. We need policing of ignorance and stupidity rather than moral policing

  11. somuchforcontroversy Says:

    Yup all because of the one family, dynasty, Italian family , foreign invaders , the psuedo sickularists ,etc we shit on pavements.So bring NaMo to power,See we’ve dunnit here with Yeddy already . Close the comments I say. .

  12. Sanjeeva Says:

    Corruption is a way of life.
    We go on electing the very people, whom we condemn.
    With the increase in the education level, we think regressively.
    The only place we are united is cricket ground.
    We keep on fighting over language, caste, religion, border, water.
    So on, so forth…..

  13. Nastika Says:

    You want separate country for untouchables. Ok, but
    (1) Why are you petitioning Obama?
    (2) Do you want to be 51st state of USA?
    (3) And, is creating a Facebook page, the proper channel for creating a separate state?
    (4) Even if Obama grants you an audition and what would be your pitch?
    (5) Where do you want the country to physical exists?
    (6) Which Indian states will be divided?
    (7) What about rest of untouchables living in rest of the country, how will they move in?


  14. Doddi Buddi Says:

    I am simply humbled by the amazing genius that is Amartya Sen. OK nice to know statistics. Can you help India as to how it can overcome its problems without shooting a few hundreds of intellectuals such as yourself in an Indian ‘Long March’? Thanks.

  15. 4thaugust1932 Says:

    You’ll live on as per

  16. harkol Says:


    Classic sign of a ‘troll’ – posts flame baits and something that’ll be totally irrelevant but will provoke reply

    Best way to treat a ‘troll’ is – IGNORE. So, it is best to ignore the ‘pre-independence’ dinosaur that posts comments in churumuri. ;)

  17. Anonymous Guy Says:

    DB, It is all about helping yourself, not helping India or Mandya.
    1. Get at least one of your feet in the West. Check.
    2. Get your children educated in the West, so they can also treat India as a temporary place which can be abandoned at will. Check.
    3. Marry someone in the West. Check.
    Then you can pontificate about India to your hearts content.

    Same for Nobel prize winning intellectual and same for internet anonymous nobodys. Like you and me :)

  18. Doddi Buddi Says:

    ‘X’ Guy I agree; but at least I am not a humbug like Amartya!

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