Protest diverts attention from real problems: Sen

The Kolkata Literary Meet at the book fair seems to have been plagued by Salman Rushdie controversy. A high-profile session at the KLM on Sunday saw the participation of none other than Nobel laureate Amartya Sen who took a dig at the fundamentalists for protesting against Mr Rushdie’s visit to Kolkata. He said that such actions distracted attention from the real problems of underdevelopment and poverty that Muslims face.

Prof. Sen said, “There are a lot of people who are enormously disadvantaged, have reasons to complain about other things. Here, I am not only talking about the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes but add to the fact that even in Bengal, if you look at Muslim groups in terms of the even-handedness of progress, they have not been as privileged. To subvert that issue into a completely different kind of issue and getting offended about something else is distracting attention from the real disadvantage (underdevelopment, poverty) that they face.” He added that when Muslim groups are talking about these issues and they are talking about offence, they are distracting the attention from the real issue.
Meanwhile, the Nobel laureate during the discussion on “What Moves India, What Stops It” criticised the Left parties who fight against food security and LPG price hike, but not eradicating the menace of open defecation and open toilets in the country. “I am sometimes accused of being critical of the Left parties... They should also focus (in eradicating) on the menace of open defecation, open toilets,” Prof. Sen said.
Earlier on various occasions, the noted economist had raised the issues of open defecation and child malnutrition in the country. He had even said that Bangladesh had surged ahead of India in curbing open defecation to a large extent.

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