Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Monday said nothing can change without dialogue in a democracy and observed that the space for debate was shrinking even in India. ‘I believe discussion is needed to change anything in a democracy. Without discussion, nothing can change,’ said Amartya while launching the translated Bangla version of his latest book in the city. The Nobel prize-winning economist made the statement in Dhaka at a time when the ruling Awami League, including prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, outright rejected the prospect of talks with opposition parties who have been enforcing countrywide indefinite blockade for the last 50 days demanding fresh national elections. The Centre for Policy Dialogue and Prothom Alo jointly organised the launch of the Bangla version of ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradiction.’ CPD Chairman Rehman Sobhan presided over the programme. ‘It does not seem that a perfect democracy can be established in India and Bangladesh within a very short period of time, but many democratic things may be possible right now and there is no need to wait further, he said.’ ‘And among them, the power to debate is an issue on which the media can play a vital role,’ the Nobel prize-winning economist added. He said democracy has many facets. In India, democracy is there on the one side, although democratic practices in many fields remain absent. ‘Whether poor people can express their opinion or their voices are being heard is a big issue,’ he said. Amartya said there may be some faults in a bourgeoisie democracy, but it would be wrong to refuse general democratic rights, in the search of a perfect democracy, in the process of declining bourgeoisie democracy. ‘Many good things may arise from the system despite many faults in it,’ he added. Amartya said that without human development, economic progress could not be sustained. ‘Uneducated and unhealthy labour force will not help the economy progress,’ he added. He said in every successful country in the world, the government runs basic public education and health facilities. He urged the media to focus on issues and problems the ordinary and poor people were facing. Amartya, delivering his 35-minute speech in Bangla, said economic growth in the Indian subcontinent was only 0.01 percent for around 50 years till 1947. India and Bangladesh came out of the low growth trajectory, but there was still disparity between economic growth and human progress. The economist advised that the share of the benefits of economic growth should be widened so the government can spend more on sectors that hardly get any support from the market economy. He said these include education, health and gender equality, and suggested that India and Bangladesh could learn from the experience of China in addressing the disparity between the economic growth and human progress. The lecture followed a question-answer session. The professor responded to many questions covering economic, social and education issues. Economists, politicians, businessmen, teachers, students, professionals and civil society members thronged the auditorium to listen to the economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1998 for his contribution to welfare economics.
Source: New Age