For Narendra Modi, lifeseems to have come a full circle with his staunchest critic economist Amartya Sen praising the prime ministerat an Indian Express event on Saturday.
According to a report in the newspaper, Sen said at Express Adda that Modi "has given a sense of faith to people that things can happen". He also was full praise for the prime minister for bringing the importance of toilets into the focus.
"I am critical of Mr Modi but I have to say he has given a sense of faith to people that things can happen. It may not be in exactly the same way that I would have liked to have happened... I think it is quite an achievement," Sen has bee quoted as saying in the report. He was a guest at the event, the report says.
On the prime minister's focus of building toilets to end open defecation, which has been a major health hazard in India, Sen said that was the second thing that he is praising Modi for. "...That on top of the Red Fort, he shared many good things, one of which was the absence of toilets and the other was the fear women suffer from. Not much has been done, but at least it is being talked about now," he said.
This is not the only point where Sen and the Modi government meet. The economist has said that the food security programme and the MNREGA, the rural jobs guarantee scheme started by the erstwhile UPA, have to be reworked and reformed. The government has been talking of redoing the jobs scheme but has met with opposition frombothactivists and the Congress. Both the programmes have been flagship pro-poor schemes of the UPA government.
However, this does not mean that his opposition to Modi's politics has been done away with. Acknowledging that his comment is a compliment, Sen reminded that his differences with Modi "on secularism and other things don't go away", the report says.
It has to be remembered that Sen is one of the staunches critics of Modi's Gujarat model of development that Modi and his opinions had kicked up controversies and debates.
"Gujarat is behind, particularly on the social side - lower educational pace, lower life expectancy, greater gender inequality, a busted healthcare system and that has not worked so well," he had said in 2013, again at an Indian Express event. The model is efficient in business but not efficient in creating a healthy educated labour force, he had said. Referring to the deadly 2002 riots in Gujarat which resulted in death of many Muslims and wide destruction of their business establishments, Sen had said a prime minister cannot be someone who generates fear in a large minority population.
"Hence I say Narendra Modi is not fit to be the PM," he had said.
His stance had prompted economists like Arvind Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati to come out in the open supporting Modi and his model of development. The debate had queered the pitch in the run up to the general election
In this backdrop, the latest comments from Sen assumes significance, for it highlights a few good aspects of Modi and also makes it clear that the Nobel Laureate economist's opposition to Modi is not a blind one. Critics of both Modi and Sen should sit up and take notice.
Read the entire IE report here.
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Updated Date: Dec 24, 2014 14:09:26 IST