Kolkata, Feb 3: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen Sunday said he felt “particularly upset” with the Left parties for campaigning on issues like cooking gas prices and electricity tariffs instead of looking at the “broader picture”.
Terming as a “tactical mistake” the Left parties’ decision to oppose the India-US nuclear deal, an issue on which they withdrew support to the Manmohan Singh government in 2008, the eminent economist said: “I feel particularly upset when I see the Left parties going for (issues such as) cooking gas and electricity prices and aam admi pursuits rather than the broader picture.”
Sen said withdrawal of the cooking gas subsidy does not affect many Indians, as most people “do not have the instrument into which a gas cylinder can be fitted”.
On the other hand, a third of the population still did not have access to electricity, he noted.
Elaborating on the “broader picture”, he said India was slipping in human development indicators, while still 48 percent of the Indian household were without toilets and their residents defecate in the open. The figure for China is one percent and between nine and ten percent for Bangladesh.
“In human development, we were earlier second best in South Asia after Sri Lanka and now we are second worst, just above Pakistan. I think Bangladesh has comprehensively overtaken India in the human development category,” he said addressing a session at the Kolkata Literary Meet here.
Sen regretted that the “engagement” needed to redress such problems was not coming from the expected quarters, even from parties claiming to represent the masses.
“It isn’t about whether the tactic of opposing US-India nuclear deal was right or wrong, I happen to think that tactically it was a mistake too. But that is a minor thing compared to what is the leadership you are providing to the people in the country,” he said.
Sen made it clear that he did not have much expectations in this regard of the “Hindutva parties”. “Some of it is expected of the Congress, but far more from the Left.”