Nobel Laureate Prof. Amartya Sen said India has taken a 'quantum jump in the wrong direction' after 2014 despite being the fastest growing economy.
And due to this backwards movement, India is also second worst economy in the region now.
He exclaimed that things had gone 'pretty badly wrong... It has taken a quantum jump in the wrong direction.. We are getting backwards in the fastest-growing economy.'
Prof. Sen recalled that 20 years ago of the six countries in this region, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan, we were the second best after Sri Lanka. Now, he said, 'we are the second worst. Pakistan, of course, has managed to shield us from being the worst.'
Speaking at the launch of the Hindi edition of his book 'An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradiction' which he co-authored with development economist Jean Dreze,Porf. Sen said the government has also deflected from issues of inequalities, the caste system and the schedules tribes have been kept out.
A whole group of people, those who clean lavatories or sewage with their hands, have been totally neglected, he said. Recalling the recent news item about a Dalit youth who was whipped for demanding a hike salary from the manager of a petrol pump in Madhya Pradesh, Prof. Sen said they are going around without any kind of certainty about their next meal, healthcare or education.
Taking a dig at the BJP-led government, he added that during freedom struggle it was difficult to see that a political battle could be won by playing up the Hindu identity, but that has changed now. "But, that has happened. Which is why, at this time, the whole issue of Opposition unity is so important," the 84-year-old economist said.
"It is not a battle of one entity against the other (or) Modi against Rahul Gandhi, it is an issue of what India is," Sen added. Also speaking at the event, development economist and activist Jean Dreze termed the soon-to-be launched Ayushmann Bharat health scheme a "hoax" as it was actually not big as it was being claimed to be. "The budget (for the scheme) for this year is 2,000 crore. Even if it is spent, it's less than 20 rupees per person," he said.
It is projected as health insurance for 50 crore people, but it is virtually nothing, said Dreze, who helped draft the first version of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA).