Need tolerance in India ‘very badly’: Amartya Sen

KOLKATA: Against the backdrop of “intolerance” debate, Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen has asserted that India right now needs tolerance “very badly”.

Sen, 82, at the same time, also underscored the importance of sceptical tolerance.

Sen was delivering a lecture at a special convocation after he was given an honorary D.Litt by the Presidency university where he had studied economics at the undergraduate level and is now adviser to the chairman of the University’s Mentor Group.

Talking about his college days, he said the general idea during that time was to accept any kind of belief that would come from any side.

“Tolerance is a very great virtue and right now in India, we need it very badly,” he said, adding that there was a need for sceptical tolerance just like poet Henry Louis Vivian Derozio who didn’t have enmity with any group, but questioned every group.

During his lecture, the economist said democracy was not a majoritarian rule.

Sir we are tolerant enough . The biggest prof is that we are tolerating you.
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“Now if you think about India, when we say that democracy may be under some threat… what are the issues? Well first of all, democracy is not just a majoritarian rule, it also involves minority rights, it involves liberty and liberty of expressions and so on,” he said.

On other issues, Sen said government’s help was needed to run the Presidency University, but it should not dominate the institution.

“Presidency would certainly want government’s help, but (it should) not (be) dominant,” he added.