The extent of government intervention in academic matters has become “extraordinarily common” and often “politically extreme” under the NDA regime, says Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.
Amartya Sen, however, says this is not the first time that a government has interfered in academic matters with its own views as the previous UPA government’s record in non- interference was “far from impeccable”.
“But the extent of intervention has become extraordinarily common and often politically extreme under the present regime,” 81-year-old Amartya Sen writes in his new book “The Country of First Boys”, in which he tries to seek an understanding of India’s history and the demands of its future.
“And often enough, the persons chosen for heading institutions of national importance have been exceptionally dedicated to promoting Hindutva priorities,” Amartya Sen added.
The 1998 Economics Nobel winner then cites the example of the newly-appointed head of the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR), Yellapragada Sudershan Rao, saying he “may not be known for research in history, but his Hindutva- oriented opinions are well-known”.
Similarly, the new head of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), Lokesh Chandra, has shared with us his view that Modi is, in fact, “a reincarnation of God”, he says.
Published by Oxford University Press, the book also has essays on justice, identity, deprivation, inequalities, gender politics, education, the media and the Nalanda University.
Sen alleges that the new government has been active in trying to impose its own views on many academic institutions, and Nalanda University is not the only such institution the intellectual independence of which has been under considerable threat in recent months.
On May 30, the government announced that former Foreign Minister of Singapore George Yeo will be the new Chancellor of the Nalanda University, over two months after Sen withdrew his candidature to the post for a second term, claiming the Narendra Modi government does not want him to continue.