West Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh on Saturday drew all-round flak for making a vitriolic personal attack on Nobel laureate and Bharat Ratna awardee Amartya Sen and casting aspersions on his achievements, contribution and character.
Speaking at a function here, Ghosh – known for repeatedly putting his foot in the mouth – lashed out against Sen, saying the economist himself did not understand what he has achieved.
“We have a Nobel prize winner. He is a Bengali, he is alive. We are very proud of that. What has he achieved? Nobody in Bengal understands this. No one in the world understands it. I have doubts whether he himself understands it,” said the BJP leader.
Questioning Sen’s contribution to the country, he said: “What has he given the country? Because he has got the Nobel, we are dancing in joy. He is very much pained for having being removed as Nalanda Vice Chancellor (actually Sen was Nalanda University Chancellor). What has he done?”
Ghosh said such people who lacked “backbone and character” were now Bengal’s pride.
Continuing in the same vein, Ghosh attacked Bengal’s present intellectuals, saying they could be “bought, sold and threatened”.
“Earlier, Bengal’s intellectuals were revered for their ideas , thoughts and dignity, farsightedness and couldn’t care less attitude.
“But unfortunately, things have become diametrically opposite now. These people can be bought, sold, threatened. They fall at others’ feet.”
Soon after Ghosh’s comments were aired by a television channel, civil society unequivocally condemned him.
“To raise questions about Amartya Babu’s scholarship and personality and sense of freedom is ridiculous. The entire world knows this, and Bengal is justly proud of that. But at the same time it is also true that these comments don’t dilute his (Sen’s) scholarship. We are proud of Amartya Sen,” said Jadavpur University Vice Chancellor Suranjan Das.
Educationist Sukanta Chowdhury said the comments were “highly insulting”.
“To even respond to such remarks would be tantamount to insulting Aamartya Sen. I will only say such distasteful and loose comments only end up vitiating the social environs.”
“What can I say, if somebody says even Amartya Sen does now know what he has achieved? I will only say such person’s ignorance has no end. Those who make such comments only flaunt their ignorance,” said thespian Soumitra Chatterjee.
Indian Statistical Institute professor and noted economist Abhirup Sarkar said Ghosh “lacked the education to understand Sen’s contribution”.
Former principal of Bethune College and ex-MP Krishna Bose said Ghosh’s words “have left me ashamed”.
“Whole world knows Amartya Sen’s contribution to economics and social sciences,” said Bose, the widow of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s nephew Sisir Bose.
State Education Minister and Trinamool Congress Secretary General Partha Chatterjee said: “Dilip Ghosh has insulted all Bengalis and other Indians. Dilip Babu lacks knowledge. So he always flexes his muscles for survival. How can such person become state president of a political party?”
Communist Party of India-Marxist politburo member Mohammad Salim said those who do their politics by using faith and religion can never accept scholarly persons like Sen.
“Dilip Ghosh is already ‘famous’ for his utterances. Bengalis and other Indians will not accept such remarks.”
Sen is known for his contribution to welfare economics, social choice theory, economic and social justice, economic theories of famines, and indexes of the measure of well-being of citizens of developing countries.
He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1999.
Sen has been stridently criticising Prime Minister Narendra Modi and recently flayed the demonetisation exercise carried out by the National Democratic Alliance government.