Amartya Sen – Victim of Vendetta or a clever plot at Attempted Martyrdom

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, today withdrew his candidature for a second term as Nalanda University chancellor. He blamed this on the Government’s delay in approving his candidature. He also alleged that the Government is using its political might to “interfere in academic matters“. He was helped by fellow “liberals” on Twitter, in playing the victim of political vendetta. But it is surprising that he never expected this, considering his views on Modi:

1. Minorities have reason to fear Modi, Amartya Sen says

On 30th April 2014, Sen proclaimed that minorities have valid reasons to fear Modi. Such statements during Lok Sabha elections are an example of practially campaigning against a person.

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2. Narendra Modi not a good PM candidate

Even on 1st May 2014, during the Lok Sabha elections, Amartya Sen had made it clear that Modi is not a good PM candidate. He said Modi “is very popular among the business community” but not his favourite candidate. He also categorically stated he “would like someone who is more secular“.

3. Just Vote Modi Out

On 2nd May 2014, Amartya Sen came out in the open and said that people should vote out a government (the Modi Government) instead of migrating to another country. He raised the bogey of 2002 Gujarat riots saying it could have been “organized violence”. He called Modi’s administrative experience a “terrible record” on account of 2002 riots.

That is the brief history of Amartya Sen’s “love affair” with Modi. Sen openly criticizes a person, and then expects mercies from him in saving his chair, and a luxurious chair.

However, Sen’s hatred for Modi doesn’t mean that he could be given a raw deal. Yes, Modi has all the rights to choose people he can trust. And there is nothing to prove that Modi doesn’t trust his critics. Remember that Modi went ahead and appointed Arvind Subramanian as the new Chief Economic Advisor, who in 2013 had questioned Modi’s “Gujarat Model”

Then could Amartya Sen be snubbed for other reasons? As R Jagannathan points out, Amartya Sen has many flaws so far as him holding the post is concerned:

1. Amartya Sen is 81 years old. It is hard for anyone at that age, to function at his peak capacity. In fact, we have seen what another aged Economist, who was idolized for his actions in 1991, did to the Indian economy as Prime Minister. In fact, most Government posts have a mandatory retirement age of 60 odd years, Amartya Sen has gone far beyond that, and it would be only graceful of him to step down and let younger blood take the mantle.

2. We don’t even know if Amartya Sen was interested in the Nalanda University. The reason we say this is, Sen, the Chancellor of this University, was absent for its grand re-opening after 800 years! Some observers believed that the likely poor strength in the classes may have forced Sen to skip the inauguration. But if he claims to be so interested in the post now, one wonders why he did not show this enthusiasm on the inaugural day.

3. Amartya Sen’s tenure has been far from perfect. In fact, during his tenure as chairman of the board (and de facto chancellor), key appointments to the university have been dogged by controversies relating to nepotism and non-transparency

Once we go through this, we wonder if Amartya Sen is deliberately playing the victim card to hide his shortcomings behind the “burqa” of Political Vendetta.

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