Amartya Sen says Gujarat development model has weaknesses on social side

Amartya SenNobel Laureate Amartya Sen during the Idea Exchange programme of the Indian Express in Mumbai. (Express photo)

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen on Thursday said the Gujarat development model suffered from weaknesses on the social side and could not, therefore, be considered a success.

Sen, a strong advocate of government spending in health and education, was interacting with journalists of the Express Group at an Idea Exchange programme in Mumbai, which was also put on a video link with The Indian Express office in Delhi.

While conceding that there were things to be learnt from the Gujarat model as far as physical infrastructure was concerned, Sen said, "Gujarat is behind, particularly on the social side — lower educational pace, lower life expectancy, greater gender inequality, a busted healthcare system and that has not worked so well. What has been rather efficient in business has not been so efficient on things that we are trying to concentrate in India — to have a healthy educated labour force."

Related: Ready to return Bharat Ratna if Vajpayee asks: Amartya Sen

Sen, who was honoured with the Bharat Ratna by Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government in 1999, said India's prime minister could not be someone who generates fear in a large minority population. "Hence I say Narendra Modi is not fit to be the PM."

Sen, who has been the focus of a running controversy in the media, said he had been discovering things about himself on the current trip to India which he had not known earlier.

"I have read from the newspapers this morning that I have already declared myself pro-UPA," he said. "With these discoveries, perhaps I need an introduction," he said.

Sen said there was no case that subsidies should not be cut. However, he pointed out, the focus ought not to be on cutting only those subsidies that were linked to the poor, without touching those that benefited the rich — for instance on electricity, diesel and cooking gas.

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