AMARTYA SEN NOBEL LAUREATE IN ECONOMICS A CONGRESS MAN
Dr. Seshachalam Dutta
SEN'S CONCEPT OF HINDU ORTHODOXY CONTRASTING WITH MODERNITY
Sen has a strange concept of sexual mores of the traditional (Hindutva) Hindus. He takes an issue with demonstration and revulsion of traditional Hindus on encountering Valentine Day activities in Mumbai as ignoring the vibrant and romantic Indian society of ancient lore. In this he quotes Kalidasa’s Meghadoot, in which the Abhisarikas (damsels) brave the pitch dark night to meet their lovers. There are other quotes from this poem he refers to in support of his pet concepts. While doing so he accuses the Hindutvavadins as being ignorant of Sanskrit literature, a reckless and arrogant posture by someone whose knowledge of Sanskrit appears to be cursory. As a case in point while discussing Kalidasas work, the verse in Meghdoot (verse37) which begins with
Gachhantinaam Ramani vasatim yoshitaam tatra naktam ruddhaa loke narapathi pathe soochibhedii- stamobhihi soudaamanyaa nikasha snigdhayaaa darshayorvim ……………..
In this verse the author calls for Megha (the cloud personified) to show the path for the abhisarikas going to meet their lovers in pitch dark night, illuminating their path by gentle lightening…
Here is Sen's translation: The girls went through “darkness separated by a needle”.
There is no such act as separating the darkness by a needle. It only means "it was pitch dark that only a needle could penetrate." It is an alankara, figure of speech in literature. Maha Kavi Kaladasa is known to use metaphorical language, such as utpreksha upamaa, and in this case atishayokti (hyperbole). Thick darkness that needle can not penetrate is form of anuthttama in sanskrit alarkars meaning there cannot be any superior superlative. The quote does not at all mean mean "girls slit the darkness with a needle!" Nobel Laureate Sen exposes his concrete thinking and inability to comprehend Sanskrit poetic alankara (figure of speech).
Similarly, himself an atheist, he makes a reference to the episode of Rishi Jabali in Ramayana, as advocating atheism to Rama. The episode refers to a situation where Jabali advises Rama that he did not have to care for his father or mother or have any reluctance to break his oath and thus return to his kingdom and claim his throne. Jabali was not advocating atheism to Rama, he was advancing an argument for adopting unethical path, to ignore his promise he gave to his father, which was angrily rejected by Rama. Atheism does not advocate immorality and Hindutva has nothing to do with theology of atheism or theism. Again Sen’s knowledge in choosing this citation as evidence of advocacy of atheism in Ramayana shows that his knowledge of Sanskrit is not so profound for him as to ridicule Hindu activists’ shortcomings in Sanskrit scholarship.
Coming to the sexual mores of Hindus, Sen takes the trouble of reminding us the nude figurines on the temples of Khajurao. The point he is missing is that Hindus do not subscribe to the concept of "original sin" as in Christianity. There is appropriate place, time and regard to the sensitivities of civilized men and woman when it comes to sex which is a universal creative force that should be treated with delicacy and respect which is lacking in Valentine day commercialization of sex. He could have found in Meghdoot, a few pages earlier, Kalidasa referring to prostitutes in his poem, which is not a justification to return to professional prostitution. (Vesyaaswattho nakhapada sukhan-praapya varshaagra bindoo) “Oh Megha give the gentle rain to relieve (the pain) of the nail scratches on the bodies of prostitutes. -- Meghdoot Verse 35”) Does Sen advocate that we legalize prostitution? Does he also advocate that Indians should have nude clubs and legalized pornography in India because there are sexually explicit figurines on Khajurao temple? That too he might justify from Kalidasa’s poetry! Again in Meghadoot Verse 41 the poet asks Megha not to tarry on his journey looking at the river Gambhira-nadi which forks as two legs and compares its two banks of sand dunes as two buttocks. He exclaims “which romantic can leave the site of the woman with wide spread thighs?” “jnaathaa-swado vivruthajhaganaam ko vihaatu samarthah’.
The place woman in Hindu culture is that of mother, with her sanctity. Indians see their country as motherland. Yet there is the aspect woman as partner and that is kept in privacy not in public display as evidenced by the practice of Hindus not indulging in romantic affection in public. Commercialized Valentine violates the Hindu culture. Even the present Pope has second thoughts on celebration of it. India is mainly a maternal love related sentiment dominated society where the country is referred as a motherland not fatherland. Womanhood is respected universally in the image of mother. The exception is conjugal love which is reserved in marriage which is a paradox and therefore it has to be treated as extremely private. That is the culture of India and it appears scholars who lived for extended periods in the West appear to forget it. In his one act play of Chitra Tagore excellently portrays the paradox of woman’s vulnerability. Princess Chita, the only child was raised by her father as a boy skilled in marshal arts. When she encounters handsome Arjuna, she feels that she lost all her strength and would like to surrender to him, showing the special delicate sensitivities of womanhood.
In his narrative of life of Robindranath Tagore, Sen ignores inherent traditions and sensitivities relative to the Hindu family. He mentions that Tagore had an unhappy married life. While I do not know the basis for his conclusion, it is a fact that Tagore married Mrinalini, a girl of tender age of 10, (no uncommon at all in that era) and had no reason to complain after marrying a child. She gave him five children and died at the age 29. Graceless, Sen recounts that Tagore had ‘platonic’ love relation with Kadambari, the wife of his brother who died at an young age, 25 months after the marriage of Tagore, and according to Sen, she committed suicide for 'reasons not fully understood.” What does he suggest in the sequence of narrative of Tagore’s platonic love and her mysterious suicide soon after his wedding to a child of ten? The implication is sinister, and the narrative is in poor taste. Sen further goes on narrating Tagore’s romantic attachment to Victoria Ocampo, an Argentinean writer. Whatever the facts or the gossip, it has no place in an expose of biography of a great man Tagore. There is something of profane in Sen's narrative. What is important to note is that Tagore who lost his wife in his forties never again married. The same is true of another great leader Jawaharlal Nehru who never married after the death of his wife Kamala. His marriage was also arranged and he describes in his autobiography how they use to quarrel, and finally Nehru narrates beautifully the story of his tender love for his wife as he watched her at her bedside as her health deteriorated and as she ended her life. The rest of his family life was with his daughter. It is hard for Sen to appreciate the nature of Hindu marriage and dedication as one who divorced his Indian wife and became twice married to western women. Growing in the West, Sen only sees the shallow romantic practices of West such as the vulgar celebration of Valentine ritual as "explicit sexual freedom."
Sen also feigns his sympathy with Indian womanhood; as again he uses Western standards. The achievement of Hindu society in treating women has escaped him. Unlike in the West, Indian woman did not have to fight for suffrage nor even for property rights. Hundred years ago, a governor in North Carolina said that he would not be treated by women in skirts. Even as in 1970, admissions of women in medical schools were less than five percent in the U.S, whereas in India it was 40 to 50 percent. Women were accepted as national leaders in freedom movement as early as in 1927 in India. All this escapes the ‘argumentative Indian’ Sen who follows the train of anti Indian Western narrative. His penchant to appease the western scholars at the cost of Indian is evident in his criticism of N.S. Rajaram and Jha and taking the side of an anti Indian Witzel, who was not qualified to render any judgment. Regarding Sanskrit learning in modern India and even abroad, Sen never recognized that the great force has been Viswa Hindu Parishad, (VHP). Sanskrit is so well promoted by VHP that there is a town in Karnataka where Sanskrit is spoken in public places, even in barber shop! His remarks about Hindu activists show his ignorance and are irresponsible. The only organization that took the mission of promoting Sanskrit in the U.S is Sanskrit Bharati affiliated with VHP.
SEN SAYS, "INDIA SHOULD NOT ASPIRE TO BE IN SECURITY COUNCIL AND
SHOULD NOT SEEK TO BE A NUCLEAR POWER"
In both issues of nuclear weapon development and membership in Security Council his analysis is amateurish.
Every non-aligned country in the world supports India’s membership in the Security Council, because it is the second most populous country in the world. Security Council is presently represented by five Nations with nuclear arsenal and four of them with a long history of colonialism and racism. He asks the question whether the membership would in any way benefit India. Anyone who followed recent conflicts in Middle East will not fail to notice how important the membership in the Council is. James Baker extensively outlined how important it was to secure the vote of China during first Iraq war and the economic and strategic benefits that accrued for China for cooperating with U.S.
The best argument he summons against the acquisition of nuclear weapons is the ghastly narrative of Arundhati Roy, an avowed leftist. While I have no problem with her political persuasion, she is no authority on nuclear strategies. Both congress and BJP are wrong in their claim that India is a Nuclear Power, since India did not weaponize Nuclear weapons. They argued for their right for nuclear weapons but never went beyond it. (See Seshachalam Sookta Sumana 2011 on this issue)
While it is unlikely that there will ever be a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, a blackmail from old colonial and neocolonial powers is likely, as we have experienced during India-Pakistan War in Bangladesh when Henry Kissinger threatened India with an attack by nuclear response, if India did not accept a ceasefire with their ally Pakistan. Nuclear weapons are a necessary evil and neglecting it will be suicidal for any great Nation. Any leader who ignores it is a traitor.
AMARTYA SEN’S least DISREGARD FOR TRUTH AMOUNTING TO LIBEL
In Sen’s mind reason has no place as his belief is not based on reason but on his fancy. Therefore, reason has no place in his arguments. He never troubles himself to heed arguments of his opponents. Amartya sen refers to RSS as participants in Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. This is a serious charge that cannot be ignored. There are others who made such accusations who were forced to apologize. In the year 2000 A.G Noorani in Statesman of India carried an article accusing RSS having a role in the assassination of Gandhiji. He was sued by regional RSS leader, but ignored the lawsuit and did not appear in the court until an arrest warrant was issued. In 2002 Noorani rendered an unconditional apology which was published in Statesman on March 3, 2002. Strangely, Sen quotes extensively as authentic in his narrative on Nuclear weapons! What is startling is that Sen is familiar with Kapoor Commission report (1970, Vol 1P 165) in which RSS was categorically absolved of any role in the assassination. Sen does make reference to this report while discussing Savarkar. Sen’s accusation in spite of his knowledge of evidentiary source is malicious, undignified and loathsome. It is up to RSS to take this seriously and charge him with malefiscience. RSS was maligned in1948 on the day of Gandhiji’s assassination and large scale arrests were conducted and many lost their jobs in several Universities and colleges. Thousands of students offered satyagraha and went to jail protesting the ban and court arrests. Many of them are now in their 80's and 90's. Gandhi’s assassination propaganda cast a cloud on them. The least that RSS can do for them is to challenge Amartya Sen, take him to Court and force him to apologize.
Amartya Sen throughout his book falsifies the evidence to justify the argument. It is perplexing how a man richly endowed by divine grace with intellect, cultivated his talents by arduous study and established certain reputation in his field of specialization is destitute of power of discerning truth from falsehood. One can only conjecture that his judgment is impaired by ideological fervor and blind hatred towards the people he disagrees with, in this case Hindu Nationalists. His excursions in the field of Hindu–Muslim history, Indian politics, or naivety in nuclear arms issues may be ignored, but he should be held accountable for his attack on RSS amounting to defamation through slander and libel.
His gross exaggeration saying that Bangladesh is the safest place if there is a war (nuclear) between India and Pakistan, shows a man learning the alphabet of nuclear disarmament. His constant refrain on attacking Hindutva in almost every chapter in the book inspires disgust. Of late, he driveled into distorting Jewish history by constructing a false narrative that the great Jew Maimonides was the subject of great Muslim tolerance in Egypt. Unlike from the passive Hindu Nationalists he got prompt response from Jews, giving Sen a black eye.
The following may be of interest to some readers:
HOW AMARTYA SEN'S THEORY CAUSES FAMINES
1 INTRODUCTIONThe problem of famines and food shortages is one of the most acute facing agricultural economists. Today fifteen countries have famines and thirty million people face starvation. Since the mid 1970s Professor Amartya Sen's approach to the economics of famine has become influential. He has argued at some length that a major cause of famines is not a sudden decline in food availability, but a sudden redistribution of what food is available. It will be argued here that there are major weaknesses in his theory which mean that it is more likely to cause famines than to cure them. It will be argued that his theory and analysis are wrong and that there are inconsistencies between the arguments he presents. Furthermore, the implications of his theory are contradicted by the facts given in the sources he uses. There are also ubiquitous and systematic inconsistencies between the facts he gives and the facts given in his sources.