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
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