Kicking off the first day of the Zee Jaipur literature festival, guest of honour Amartya Sen wooed the audience with an elegant narration of what he described as the state of Indian affairs.
In his key note address, the master economist, reached out to the public with a message to undertake much needed political and social change.
“The launch of DSLV, a few days ago, the media said, it put Indians in the ‘elite club’. I was relieved that we were finally in the elite club,” Sen said with subtle sarcasm.
“Although I had no idea what the DSLV was, and upon some research I found out that it carried the Gsat 14. Aah, that is just what I needed,” he quipped.
He further continued his address in form of a story, where he shared with the audience his seven most-dear wishes for the nation.
“Firstly, I wish for a greater role for humanities in education and daily life,” he said, explaining how there was an increasing need to sensitise and develop faculties.
His second wish reflected his long standing criticism of the right wing of India.
“I wish for a right wing party that is secular and not communal,” he said. He reminisced the days of the Swatantra Party, adding how such an opposition could provide Indians with due choice.
He complemented his third wish by hoping for a stronger and more clear-headed left party; one that can dedicate itself to fighting imperialism and reversing the terrible state of really poor people of India.
For his fourth wish, Sen looked at the media. He said, “I want the media to be more responsive to the needs of the poor people, rather than to commercial interests.” He pointed how even though the Indian media was diligent, it failed to grasp the larger picture.
He followed this with a wish for a healthy and productive population, with basic amenities for all including women and children.
But it was his sixth wish that drew a roaring response from the crowd. Referring to the recent Supreme Court ruling on Section 377, he said, “I wish for the reverse of the reversal of the reversal by Delhi court on the law that criminalises homosexuality.”
In his final wish, he asked for larger social awareness in India and to make them less defeatist. He complimented people’s efforts during Cyclone Phalin and also pointed how India hasn’t had any real famines since independence, which he credited our ability to mobilise. But he was critical of rate of reported rape in India, as well as, the overall situation of women in India. He urged greater social interest in all crimes against women.
In conclusion he added, “Social media can help, but you must read more books!”
Needless to say, Sen’s extremely entertaining address was not only received with a standing ovation, but also managed to touched upon the important social issues with audience.