Jaipur lit fest begins with Amartya Sen's seven-point wishlist
Nobel laureate and author Amartya Sen's seven wishes marked the opening of the seventh edition of Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) here Friday where he hoped to see a strong right-wing party with a secular ideology come to power at the centre, media reporting to be more responsible and children getting quality education in a sustainable environment, among other things.
Delivering the keynote address to a packed audience at the Diggi Palace under a warm winter sun, the 80-year-old said when he was invited for the JLF, he felt nervous because he was to share his thoughts with an elite audience.
"A wish a day for a week," Sen told the audience here, "is what I am going to share with you."
The address didn't tread the conventional path. Sen, in fact, chose a conversation with what he called the "Goddess of Medium Things" (GMT).
"I asked her (GMT) to give me seven wishes a day for my country," he said.
"We seriously need to cultivate classical education like the arts, language and culture in our country. There are many students who go for science and technology, but how many are actually looking at humanities as a subject," he asked.
His second wish was for a "strong right-wing party that is secular and not communal" to come to power at the centre.
"I want to see a party that is pro-market and pro-business to come to power and doesn't prioritise one religion over another," said Sen.
His third wish was to see the left parties play a stronger role in Indian politics.
"The political parties in the left should be stronger and less conservative and should take care of the marganalised," he said.
Sen also wished for the courts to strengthen their decision making.
Referring to a Supreme Court ruling upholding Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) barring unnatural sex, Sen wished the decision could be reversed.
"The courts in the country have become weaker, if one looks at the recent ruling of Supreme Court for making homosexual relations criminal," he said.
Sen also contended that if the country utilsed its resources properly, it could tread the path of prosperity.
"We need decent schools, children should be fully immunised, every home should have a toilet and good education in a sustainable environment for all," he added.
Last, but not the least, he wished the media to report more responsibly and bring voices of the poor and marginalised people to the forefront.
"Media should be more responsible in reporting about people who make India, reach out to poor and marginalised people and not just write about glamour," he said.
There are around 250 authors at JLF this year and it will end Jan 21.
(Shilpa Raina can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 17-01-2014)