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Gujarat riots hit secularism: Amartya Sen
August 01, 2003 20:07 IST
The Gujarat riots have 'hit' Indian secularism, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said in New Delhi on Friday.
"It has made minorities' position uncertain. I would not take consolation if it is worse elsewhere," Sen said.
Asked to comment on the killing of Hindus in Bangladesh, he said, "I am proud of being an Indian. I take pride in the country's greatness. Comparing the position of minorities with their condition in any other country will not be justified."
India's military expenditure is very high and affects key areas like healthcare and education, which require massive investment, according to him. Though India's per capita military expenditure is much lower than that of several countries, including Pakistan, the total budget is still very big, he added.
"You don't fight a war with per capita expenditure in mind. India's military expenditure is much more than of Pakistan. India's superiority in conventional weapons is another factor raising concerns over the matter in Islamabad," he said.
Asked what type of media ownership allows more press freedom, he cited the case of BBC, which despite being owned by the British government enjoys enough freedom.
"So the critical issue is competition. Large number of groups in any area of business would be okay," Sen said.
The Nobel laureate said India is the first poor country in the world to opt for democracy. "And we have been successful in maintaining this through thick and thin."
Lauding the Indian electorate, he noted that the Indira Gandhi government was removed after fundamental and democratic rights were suspended during the Emergency.
He said it is due to the greatness of the Indian democracy that Deputy Prime Minister Lal Kishenchand Advani has agreed to discuss differences between them over issues of secularism and the Gujarat riots.
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