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.
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.