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Sen cites violence on Dalit women

New Delhi, Jan. 4: Amartya Sen today rued that the long history of violence against Dalit women in India hardly attracted public attention.

Delivering a lecture on “human development in the post-2015 era”, the economist-philosopher expressed happiness at the attention given to the recent bus gang rape and murder. “I am absolutely delighted that the issue of violence against women is receiving the kind of attention it needed,” he said.

“But I would have been more delighted if it was recognised that Dalit women have been undergoing violence over a long time, with hardly any protest and any organisation behind them.”

Sen said Gujarat had a distinguished record in developing physical infrastructure but had not done much on human development indicators. He said Gujarat fared badly compared with states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Himachal Pradesh in per capita income, the proportion of below-poverty-line families, child under-nourishment and under-five mortality.

The Nobel laureate said China was far ahead of India in ensuring a better quality of life for its people.

China has witnessed a faster growth rate, and the fruits of its economic growth have percolated to the people. It spends more on public health, education and the basic amenities.

India, on the other hand, has higher rates of child mortality and child under-nourishment than China. Even Bangladesh, despite its lower per capita income than India, fares better in several human development indicators, he said.

“The question before us is how to combine our democratic system with our commitment to the people,” Sen said.

He said the lack of basic amenities was affecting the human development index in India. For example, the health care sector in India is “completely out of gear”, he said.

India spends 1.2 per cent of its GDP on public health compared with China’s 2.7 per cent, Sen said. Since public spending on health is lower, India has the highest number of private hospitals in the world, he said.