Amartya Sen describes Indian caste divisions as ‘anti-national’ at London School of Economics

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen addressed a special event at the London School of Economics (LSE) to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit rights activist Babsaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

By: PTI | London | Published:June 16, 2016 9:38 pm
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Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen on Thursday criticised the practice in India of branding people who don’t “toe a certain line” as anti-national.

Addressing a special event at the London School of Economics (LSE) to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Dalit rights activist Babsaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, Sen said: “One issue that keeps coming up in India is people being branded as ‘anti-national’ for not toeing a certain line”.

“I would say caste is anti-national because it divides the nation. We want to be national, not anti-national, for which it is important to eliminate all divisions,” the 82-year-old economist and philosopher said.

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Referring to Ambedkar, a former LSE student, as a “great social revolutionary and an intellectual powerhouse”, he added: “It is through education we can truly bring about change in the world. That is the vision which Babasaheb Ambedkar gave us for a united nation.”

‘Dr Ambedkar’s Relevance Today and in the Future’ was organised by the Federation of Ambedkarite and Buddhist Organisations UK (FABO UK) in collaboration with the Inequality and Poverty Research Programme, Department of Anthropology at the LSE and the India Observatory at the LSE to coincide with the centenary of Dr B R Ambedkar joining the LSE.

The aim of the day-long conference was to bring together academics, economists, business leaders, equality champions, politicians and women leaders to highlight the relevance of Ambedkar’s work on the economic and social reforms in India and beyond.

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“London holds a special place in the life of Babsaheb Ambedkar and his home at King Henry’s Road will serve as memorial dedicated to social justice. He was a great intellectual, jurist, human rights champion who struggled against all odds in his goal of nation-building. The best way to honour him is to try and follow his ideals,” said Dr Virander Paul, the deputy high commissioner of India to the UK.

Ambedkar, referred to as the architect of the Indian Constitution, registered for a Master’s degree and took courses in Geography and Political Ideas alongside Social Evolution and Social Theory and went on to complete a PhD thesis at LSE.

The year 2016 marks the centenary of his first visit to LSE in 1916.

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  1. 4
    4thAugust1932
    Jun 17, 2016 at 4:33 am
    UC/BC/SC/ST should live in separate countries as per "Communal Award";
    Reply
    1. A
      anonymous
      Jun 17, 2016 at 9:18 am
      The first time when I realized caste still exists in India is when I had to tick in General box during secondary exam enrollment. It is important to understand that govt/leaders needs to keep the country divided to ease their rule, and Ambedkar was no different. It is very obvious to understand how reservation system has kept the caste system alive and one needs to be grossly stupid to avoid this argument. What was known as Brahmin-Khatriya-Baisya-Shudra system is now General-SC-ST-OBC system. How hard is it to understand for the people of this nation and Ambedkar fanboys ? Some people will be so angry, "How can you question Ambedkar", well he's not god is he ? Then why shouldn't I question ? What is stopping me logically, morally or otherwise ?
      Reply
      1. Y
        Yakobi
        Jun 17, 2016 at 12:59 am
        No need to beg any one to be equal, leave dump of hinduism racism behind, and condemn hinduism racism, as it deserves to be treated, by total eradication from the face of earth, including hindu racist by faith,
        Reply
        1. A
          Ajitdada
          Jun 17, 2016 at 12:41 am
          Cast system was created on the basis of distribution of work among people and it was allowed to change the work. There was nothing about type of work and ability to do that. During Mauryan time the Greek ambador Magesthanes wrote that artists had highest respect and hurting artist was subjected to death penalty. People changed their profession and accepted into the respective cl(groups). Women were allowed to marry a men from any cl. This is writeen in "Indika". Somewhere during 400-700AD cast system solidified and type of work got respect than ability to do the work. Cosntant battles between Vedic citizens with invading non Vedic cults increased the vulnerability of the Vedic civilization. Still our society was way better than the Muslims, Christian and greek society in terms of treating human respectfully. Greek, Egyptian, Muslim, Christians have slavery insutionalized and allowed to carry till late. Their religious books have tons of references to slavery. Whereas Vedic religions do not support Slavery. Again read "Indika" and you will find greek surprise for not finding slaveary in India. Under cast system there was no restriction on earning wealth and power.
          Reply
          1. A
            Ajitdada
            Jun 17, 2016 at 12:45 am
            Try kicking out vatican agents asap.
            Reply
            1. V
              VP Joshi
              Jun 17, 2016 at 1:33 pm
              To be anti something, it has to exist first. Idea of nationalism is very recent, while castes were there from time immemorial. You can thus say nationalism is anti-casre, but not vice versa!
              Reply
              1. M
                MyTake
                Jun 17, 2016 at 12:09 am
                On the flip side, for the thought of it: What caste new age his belong to? They seem to be even above the Brahmins, above the rest!
                Reply
                1. M
                  MyTake
                  Jun 17, 2016 at 12:04 am
                  Once the oldies are out giving way to fresh blood, there is hope. It is difficult to teach a old d o g a new trick!
                  Reply
                  1. M
                    MyTake
                    Jun 17, 2016 at 12:02 am
                    Only a Sannyasi in politics like PM Modi can remove the caste System in India by his development agenda. Once people become busy (not only get absorbed and get carried away by it) with initiatives of development agenda, the tide will erase the caste lines and their pseudo Gurus! Only economic interests can flatten the landscape bringing in new hopes and aspiration with new opportunities! lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Yes, in the mean time Mr. Sen's Masters (Congie and Commie) will try to exploit the dividing line and keep it alive just in case it helps them reach the finishing line one more time! But thanks to Modi that prospect is fading by the day. Once people will see there is more dignity in earning the living by honest means and there is opportunity for doing that, you will find very few takers to spoon feed "quota"! You can not make a smash potato or a soup of Ambedkar story everyday (sorry, no disrespect intended) for your everyday lunch or even to cheer up the gallery!
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      MyTake
                      Jun 16, 2016 at 7:18 pm
                      What have you done to erase it? What Congress did other than strengthening the divisive lines? lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Did you even protest about that?
                      Reply
                      1. A
                        Asithanthi
                        Jun 17, 2016 at 1:23 pm
                        The statement of Amartya Sen on 'caste' cannot be more correct.The Indian Government may have ped a legislation against 'caste discrimination' but how many have been to jail on such charges.There is hue and cry over slapping of these charges but really how many have been convicted and sent to jail for atrocities against the disadvantaged people?The violence against Dalits continues unabated,there has been an increase in ault and murders and the rate of conviction is zero.The opposition should take Sen's thoughts seriously and demand that the culprits be charged for 'sedition'since its anti national to practice 'caste'.
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Sai Abhishek
                          Jun 17, 2016 at 8:26 am
                          yes, what Amartya Sen had said is absolutely true..dia develops into a modern industrialized nation only when there is sense of oneness starts to persists among all Indians irrespective of caste, creed, race, region and religion.. Caste distinctions and Caste-ism is not letting Indians to feel they are all one ..This is not letting Indians to unite and fight against all the odds what India is facing today .. It is hindering nationalism, in-fact it is anti-nationalistic in nature ...
                          Reply
                          1. A
                            A. N.
                            Jun 17, 2016 at 6:43 am
                            It seems Dr. Sen is aging faster than expected. However, I am happy that he has not said that cast system is anti nation because that is the gift of old oconomists. A. N. Purohit
                            Reply
                            1. A
                              ak dev
                              Jun 16, 2016 at 5:14 pm
                              If Caste is anti-national to avoid any type of division. So division by minority should also be anti-national. Similarly division by poor should also be anti-national. Is there any logic in this line of thinking i.e. bakbas. A Sen, a Leftist some seems to have lost his thinking abilities at this age. How long the label of Nobel prize will provide shield to this men tally ret arded man?
                              Reply
                              1. A
                                Anantula jaikrishna
                                Jun 16, 2016 at 4:46 pm
                                Why is Dr Sen mixing up issues ? Nationalism rhetoric started when anti India slogans sponsored by Left parties and ideology and supported by most opposition parties just to fight ruling Bjp for their sustenance erupted in JNU and UoH. The dangers of such support and to fraud characters like Kanhaiya kumar and ASA members of UoH Hyderabad are clearly encouraging anti India characters, giving Filip to sleeper cells, terror organizations is being seen. Kanhaiya kumar a product of Congress and Left politics blamed army for so called atrocities in Kashmir encouraged separatists and disillusioned youth of Kashmir enhanced fight ahainst the state. In this context nationalism rhetoric was born. lt;br/gt;Yes caste system is anti Indian. Proved to be detrimental to the health of Indian society. But I want to ask Dr. Sen whether he raised dangers of caste division in any big forums ? Did he try to persuade Congress governments to take appropriate measures to abolish caste system in the past gew decades or expressed his views in any overseas venues ? Dr Sent is playing very negative role for his stature.
                                Reply
                                1. A
                                  A
                                  Jun 16, 2016 at 9:44 pm
                                  Didn't complan to loudly when he ganed privelage from it, oh the self haters
                                  Reply
                                  1. M
                                    mark
                                    Jun 17, 2016 at 5:02 pm
                                    very well retorted my friend.
                                    Reply
                                    1. B
                                      bhasmakar
                                      Jun 17, 2016 at 6:51 am
                                      What a venomous people are we? a person, with so much of wisdom behind him, speaks about the ills of caste system, is bed as anti-national and a paid agent of Vatican. where are we going? if they are allowed f to remain in power, where the country would go? i have never seen before people openly talking social ills as approved practices in Hindu society. God save this nation
                                      Reply
                                      1. R
                                        Rajesh
                                        Jun 17, 2016 at 4:56 am
                                        Amartya, if you actually care about this issue, shouldnt you be India working towards the goal. What good will delivering a lecture in London do for the caste issue in India? But that is what leftists do right ? You tour the world, talk nonsense about your own country, and get a pat on the back from white people.
                                        Reply
                                        1. R
                                          Rajesh
                                          Jun 16, 2016 at 6:30 pm
                                          These leftie beggars have no job but going on foreign tour and talking nonsense about their own country.
                                          Reply
                                          1. R
                                            Rajesh
                                            Jun 16, 2016 at 6:32 pm
                                            White Man A. O. Hume founded CONgress, but you morons keep spreading your lies about RSS. Its been here since 1925, and will be here long after the bacteria has decomposed your corpse.
                                            Reply
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