India

Stand by those jailed for activism: Amartya Sen

Expressing concern: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen speaking at a function in Kolkata on Monday.

Expressing concern: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen speaking at a function in Kolkata on Monday.

It is time to stand by those who are being jailed for activism or persons like Naseeruddin Shah who are raising questions about growing intolerance in the country, Professor Amartya Sen told reporters here on Monday.

“There is growing intolerance compared to the past. Many activists are now jailed as Maoist sympathisers…it is extraordinary violation of human rights. Even Naseeruddin Shah is targeted.

“We should stand by those who are targeted and ostracised. Or, we not only lose the quality of sympathy but also our analytical ability to distinguish between what is important and what is not,” said Prof. Sen.

He asked the journalists to refer to his statement on Sunday, when he defended Mr. Shah’s right to speak.

“We need to protest the way this actor [Naseeruddin Shah] is targeted,” Prof. Sen said.

In a two-minute solidarity video for human rights watch dog Amnesty International, Mr. Shah recently said that those who demand rights are being locked up.

On Monday Prof. Sen released a study conducted by the Pratichi Institute and Asiatic Society on the living conditions of the tribal people of West Bengal. The survey report has identified “food scarcity in varying degrees” in about 31% of tribal households in the State.

Commenting on the report Boro Baski, of Bishnubati village in Birbhum district, said the government’s policies, which are well intended, may also “affect” the quality of living of tribals.

“The tin houses built under the government’s housing scheme, is leading to the slow disappearance of nicely painted tribal homes, causing changes in the lifestyle of the tribals,” he said.

Mr. Baski provided other examples like how stone paved roads or temporary ponds under government schemes are affecting tribal lives.

Maroona Murmu, an Associate Professor, Department of History, Jadavpur University, said there is “cognitive blackout” of the tribal researchers in academia.

“What a tribal researcher should study or research is decided by the upper caste…there is a caste- based glass ceiling and [I was told too] why I should not work on particular topics even if I wanted to,” said Ms. Murmu.

There is very little appreciation of work of a tribal scholar, she said.

In his speech, Prof. Sen said that it is time to address real problems, not only of tribals but also other areas where discrimination is acute.

“The issue of Ram Mandir or issues like not allowing menstruating women into temples, should not be the central theme of the polity,” he added.


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Printable version | Aug 13, 2022 8:27:37 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/stand-by-those-jailed-for-activism-amartya-sen/article25933661.ece