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Academic Freedom Being Eroded In India: Amartya Sen

February 23, 2017 | By

NewDelhi: Nobel prize laureate in Economics Amartya Sen has said that the concept of autonomy of universities was increasingly becoming “alien” in the sub continent, remarks that come against the backdrop of students’ unrest on campuses like JNU.

The economist further observed that elements of liberty and fraternity were facing a “difficult time” in the Sub continent and people are “afraid” of speaking against the government for the fear of being dubbed “anti-national”.

Economist Amartya Sen.[File Photo]

“The importance of autonomy and academic freedom is easily understood in Europe and America, but it is increasingly becoming an alien thought in India,” he  said on Wednesday while addressing the media at the launch of the expanded edition of his book ‘Collective Choice and Social Welfare’ at India Habitat Centre here.

Amartya Sen, was feted for his work on ‘Welfare Economics’, said it was important for governments to make a distinction between funding and interfering in an educational institution.

“Money for state universities come from the State. It is spent by the government, but it is not owned by the government. The fact that it is spent by the government doesn’t entail that the government should take crucial decisions regarding the universities,” he was quoted saying by the English vernacular in its report.

With an indirect reference to the JNU issue he shared his concern over JNU administration issuing notices to teachers over them addressing students on a contentious issue.

“While the pursuit of equality has taken a backseat in policy making here, protests against teachers for giving lectures critical of the priorities of the ruling government and even against those who arrange those lectures have far reaching implications on the values of liberty in contemporary Indian Sub continent,” Amartya Sen said while addressing the media persons at the occasion.

The economist, who has been critical of the Narendra Modi-led government,  he is of the view that the lack of freedom in universities creates a “climate of fear”, which was in turn “extremely detrimental” to democracy.

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