Billboards highlighting Nobel laureate Amartya Sen’s remark that the slogan of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ was alien to Bengali culture have surfaced at key traffic intersections in Kolkata.
Prof. Sen made the remarks during a seminar at Jadavpur University on July 5.
“I have not heard the ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogan before. It is being used to beat up a section of people. I feel that this slogan has nothing to do with Bengal’s culture,” the billboards quote Prof. Sen as saying.
They further quote the celebrated economist: “I asked my four-year-old grandchild who is your favourite deity? She took a while and said: Ma Durga. So, the stature that Durga [Puja] enjoys here cannot be compared to Ram Navami.”
Prof. Sen was severely trolled by supporters of the Bharatiya Janata Party and other Hindutva outfits for arguing that the slogan [Jai Shri Ram] had been imported to disturb peace in the State. It is not clear who exactly has sponsored these billboards, which have been erected “on behalf of citizens”. A section of the media reported that these have been put up at the behest of the ruling party in the State. The party leadership denied any links with the posters but welcomed the idea.
Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim said he was “aware of the billboards and appreciated” the effort on part of the civil society. “Civil society and citizens of Bengal have put up these posters and we support it,” Mr. Hakim said.