More to alma mater than 2 Nobel laureates, says Amartya Sen
Sir — I am somewhat alarmed to read that my alma mater, Presidency College, is making some very special arrangements to honour the two Nobel laureates in economics who studied there. Celebrations are typically great fun, and the immediate occasion — Abhijit Banerjee’s getting the Nobel — is a very happy event (I certainly got much delight from his award). But my pride in my college makes it necessary for me to point out that the social prominence of the Nobel should not be, in any way, at the cost of our remembering Presidency’s brilliant intellectual history, going back to Henry Louis Derozio, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Swami Vivekananda, Jagadish Bose, Prafulla Chandra Ray, Subhas Chandra Bose, Meghnad Saha, Satyendranath Bose, Prasanta Mahalanobis, Fazlul Haq, Humayun Kabir, Jyoti Basu, Satyajit Ray, and a great many other luminaries. They have had achievements that no social award — the Nobel included — can, in any way, dim. Any new celebratory event should be an occasion to remember the history that makes Presidency stand tall.
Amartya Sen, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Sir — The results of the assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana prove that people are losing faith in the Bharatiya Janata Party. They have begun to realize their folly in giving a massive mandate to the saffron party in the last parliamentary elections. The BJP has misused its power. It has imposed draconian laws that are detrimental to the democratic, secular values of the country. The people have also seen through its strategy of using religious polarization and hypernationalism to divert citizens’ attention from important issues such as unemployment. It is clear that this government will not stand for the common people, but only for the rich.
The Congress, on the other hand, has improved its tally. But it has a long way to go as far as regaining its political hold is concerned. It is high time the party took some bold steps to revamp its structure. The first step towards this would be to hand over the baton of leadership to a young and vibrant leader. All ranks should extend their unconditional support to the candidate.
Tharcius S. Fernando,
Sir — The results of the polls in Maharashtra and Haryana reveal the voters’ disenchantment with the BJP. The anti-incumbency sentiment has made its presence felt in both states. The BJP’s standing in Maharashtra looks dismal as the Nationalist Congress Party has come up with a rather exciting tally. Even the Congress, with its disoriented, lacklustre efforts, retrieved a part of its lost glory by piggybacking on the campaign spearheaded by Sharad Pawar, who has demonstrated that age has not diminished his charisma.
The BJP’s flawed strategy of targeting Pawar and Praful Patel by slapping corruption charges against them just before the election must have evoked the sympathy of the people for the NCP. This has culminated in the improved performance of NCP-Congress combine. The fact that the BJP is losing base in Maharashtra, which is home to the financial capital of India, takes much of the shine off the ruling dispensation in Delhi. The Opposition parties may take heart that they could somewhat taint the BJP’s aura of invincibility. The BJP also has to work hard to negotiate with Shiv Sena, which is making steep demands.
Compared to Maharashtra, the BJP did better in Haryana. In spite of losing a few seats, it has increased its vote share. It is expected that BJP, usually deft at managing partnerships, will resolve this situation as well.
Sir — It is surprising that the results of the Lok Sabha elections and the assembly polls in Maharashtra and Haryana are poles apart, especially because the two sets of elections were held within months of each other. The BJP was expected to win the polls in both states with ease. But the results seem to have given a new lease of life to the Grand Old Party instead. There are several takeaways here, the foremost being the fact that democracy in India is still alive. The voters have shown that they are smarter than the politicians, as they have rejected most of the turncoats who left their party for greener pastures. Some of them are political heavyweights, such as Udayanraje Bhosale, a descendant of Shivaji and a two-time parliamentarian of the NCP from Satara.
The results also show that veteran leaders like Sharad Pawar and Bhupinder Singh Hooda still hold great credibility among the electorate, and the idea of opposition continues to have a place in our democracy. Opposition leaders should work together to resolve issues that concern the masses instead of criticizing one another all the time.
Ramesh G. Jethwani,
Sir — The mandates in Maharashtra and Haryana were far from resounding for the BJP. Is this a result of the arrogant abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir or the failing economy and rising unemployment in the country? The BJP must introspect, and take corrective steps to regain the confidence of the common man, who is facing many hurdles in daily life — falling interest rates of nationalized banks being one — owing to the decisions of the government.