In India there is over-reliance on private sector, which often exploits poor peasants, he says.

Just as the country has guaranteed the right to education for all, there is a need for the right to universal access to public healthcare, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen said here on Thursday.

“Even on the Right to Education here, a lot more is to be implemented, especially for girls. Not only China, but also Bangladesh is way ahead of India…education is also an unfulfilled promise here, but in health there is not even a promise. We want to press for it,” Dr. Sen told journalists at an event to announce the setting up of the Pratichi Institute.

He said that in India, there was an over-reliance on the private sector in healthcare that had led to “a situation in which quite often very poor peasants are exploited.”

Citing the example of universal healthcare in every country in Europe, America, Canada, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, he said people in India should have a right to public health.

“We want the same here,” he added.

Speaking of the implementation of the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act nearly a year after it came into force, he said quite a lot had been achieved, but there was a need for quite a lot to be done.

“The right to education was in some ways not as radical as some of us would have liked. On the other hand it was a big change. Has it achieved anything? Yes. Has it moved fast enough? No,” Dr. Sen said.

He said that Bangladesh was way ahead of India, particularly in girl's education. He pointed out that the number of girls going to school in Bangladesh was larger than the number of boys.

Pointing out that Bangladesh outscored India on all human development indicators, other than per capita income, Dr. Sen said one of the probable reasons was “the activism of liberated Bangladeshi women.”

On the draft Food Security Bill, he said there were some people opposed to it, “who think that all that the country needs is economic growth.”

“Economic growth is not an end in itself,” he said adding that it must be used for proving food, basic education and healthcare to the people.

The Pratichi Institute will be the research arm of the Pratichi (India) Trust, which was set up with the Nobel prize money of the renowned economist. The institute will focus on research in primary education and healthcare.

When asked to comment on the development of education in West Bengal, he said it was a mid-ranking State.

“It is not the best, but there is no reason that it should not be the best,” Dr. Sen said adding that the decline was not over a few decades, but since the turn of the last century.

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