Amartya again refutes Visva-Bharati VC’s call claim

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen. File photo.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The controversy over whether or not Nobel laureate Amartya Sen made a phone call to Visva-Bharati Vice-Chancellor Bidyut Chakrabarty, requesting him not to evict hawkers from outside his ancestral home in Santiniketan, refuses to die down.

In a fresh email, sent to Visva Bharati University Faculty Association (VBUFA) president Sudipta Bhattacharyya and seen by The Hindu, Professor Sen once again strongly dismissed the repeated claim made by Mr. Chakrabarty, that he had indeed received such a call from the celebrated economist.

The controversy began last month when Mr. Chakrabarty, during a virtual meeting with faculty members, claimed that he had received a call from Professor Sen, who had introduced himself as “Bharat Ratna Amartya Sen” and requested that hawkers outside his home not be removed because his daughter, who visited Santiniketan periodically, would be inconvenienced.

Following this, the VBUFA president had written to Professor Sen, asking him whether he had indeed spoken to the VC over the phone. The Nobel laureate, in his reply, denied making any call or request, leave alone introducing himself as “Bharat Ratna.”

Varsity statement

Subsequently, the university spokesman, in a statement to the media, insisted that Professor Sen had indeed called up the VC from a local number and complained to him about the removal of hawkers. According to the spokesman, the conversation took place in June 2019, when the VC was returning to Santiniketan from the Kolkata airport after attending a meeting in Delhi.

The VBUFA president then emailed Professor Sen once again, asking him whether he was in India in June 2019, considering that the call was made from a local number. To this email, the Nobel laureate replied last Tuesday: “I was not in India at all in June 2019. I am extremely rarely in India in June. I prefer to come only after the monsoon settles in — so it tends to be July, not June. On your other question, I have talked with the present V-C of Visva-Bharati only once, to the best of my knowledge. This was a few years ago when he was chairing a meeting for the release of a book by Pranab Bardhan. His claim that we have talked on the phone and I introduced myself as Bharat Ratna is tantalisingly untrue.”

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Printable version | Jul 26, 2021 8:17:50 AM |

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