Scientist Bikash Sinha has said “Amartya Sen is ultimately right” and people should “not dance about too much on the Nobel Prize but concentrate more on what the persons have contributed to the intellectual world of humanity”.
Sinha, who had graduated from Presidency College in 1964 and is a member of Presidency University’s governing board, said: “Prof Amartya Sen has made some points about Presidency College, which happens to be my alma mater. He clearly points out that there have been very eminent persons who have gone through Presidency College. So we have to keep in mind their contribution to education in general and other subjects, along with the Nobel Prize-winning Prof Amartya Sen and Prof Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee.”
The former director of the Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics also said: “In conclusion, therefore, Amartya Sen is ultimately right to the extent, let’s not dance about too much on the Nobel Prize but concentrate more on what the persons have contributed to the intellectual world of humanity....”
Sinha’s comment comes two days after Sen wrote to The Telegraph: “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.... But my pride in my college makes it necessary for me to point out that the social prominence of Nobel should not be, in any way, at the cost of our remembering Presidency’s brilliant intellectual history.... They (other prominent alumni) 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.”
A Presidency official had told Metro on Wednesday that the institution had debated the matter and finally decided in favour of building a commemorative wall for the two Nobel winners.
Sinha said on Thursday the “glamour of the Nobel Prize” should not make Presidency forget the other stalwarts in its classrooms.
“What Amartya Sen points out (is) that one must not forget them in the light of this glamour of the Nobel Prize. The great people that Prof Sen is talking about, at that time Bengal was going through a great period of industrial and intellectual renaissance, which is a unique part of our history. Now there is no intellectual renaissance as far as I can see in Bengal and industry is also on a low-ebb...,” Sinha said in the statement.
“The conclusion I draw from all this, if you wish to win a Nobel Prize — and Bengalis are very intelligent, no question, very creative, no question — you have to go to America, not even England because England is not the centre of intellectual activity anymore. Examples are too many, including Prof Amartya Sen and Prof Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee.”
According to Sinha, if Satyendranth Bose had been in America, he would have “got two Nobel prizes”.
“One for Bose-Einstein statistics and the other for Spin (of quantum mechanics). Same with Meghnad Saha. Although both of them were nominated for the Nobel Prize a number of times. The two Nobel laureates who have worked in India, in my humble opinion, are Rabindranath Tagore and C.V. Raman. Although C.V. Raman knew Lord Rutherford and Rabindranath had extensive contacts in the United Kingdom.”
Presidency vice-chancellor Anuradha Lohia was out of town and could not be reached.