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, 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.
“A fellow Bengali among us has won the Nobel Prize and we are proud. What has he achieved? Nobody in Bengal understands this. No one in the world understands it. I have doubts whether he himself understands it. But, what has he done for the state? What has he given to the nation? Because he has got the Nobel, we are dancing in joy. He is very much pained for having being removed as Nalanda Vice Chancellor. What has he done?”
He added, “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. Such people are spineless and they can be purchased or sold, and can stoop to any level,” Ghosh said while addressing a gathering in Kolkata.”
Sen has been stridently criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi and recently flayed the demonetization exercise carried out by the National Democratic Alliance government.
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.
Reacting to Ghosh’s comments, former Lok Sabha MP Krishna Bose said, “I’m ashamed of hearing this sort of indecent attack on Sen. These comments are below my dignity and do not even qualify for criticism. I believe, comments like these also doesn’t matter for Sen as the nation knows him well.”
“What can I say, if somebody says even Amartya Sen does not 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.
Educationist Sukanta Chowdhury said the comments were “highly insulting”. “To even respond to such remarks would be tantamount to insulting Amartya Sen. I will only say such distasteful and loose comments only end up vitiating the social environs.”
Jadavpur University Vice Chancellor Surnajan Das termed Ghosh’s comments as “unfortunate” and “uncalled for”.
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”.
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?”
West Bengal Congress chief Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary hit out at the BJP leader, saying, “When a person is respected and honored around the globe, who is Dilip Ghosh to question him? Actually, this is the culture of BJP and RSS. They cannot think beyond Deendayal Upadhyay, Vir Savarkar and the person who killed Mahatma Gandhi… They do not think that other than these people anybody else has done anything for the country. That’s why these days we are seeing Narendra Modi humiliating Manmohan Singh in such a demeaning manner.”
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, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and India’s highest civilian award Bharat Ratna in 1999, said he has “no objection to the criticism” by Ghosh. “I do not have any objection. He has done what he has felt and has the right to do so if he feels so,” Sen said reacting to the comments.
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.