Page 8 of 12

After 50 years of Independence, what does India have to learn from other countries...? Find out what eminent economist Amartya Kumar Sen has to say, on India Talks.

PGT: Prof. Sen, you know, politicians in India have never ceased talking about the need to improve the health care situation, the need to provide education for all, the need to alleviate poverty... and even the 9th 5 Year Plan, which commences on the 50th year of Independence, has once again talked about the need to provide health for all. Do you think they are achievable goals, or is it that we have just been talking and talking about improving the health care system, providing education, removing poverty, but done very little actually to achieve the goals?

AKS: No, certainly, India has done very little to achieve these goals, and... the talking is part of the way Indian politics is presented. There is a great deal of air of worthy objectives, which are not translated, and I am afraid even one of the characters I admire most in this century, namely Jawaharlal Nehru, in his speech on the eve of Independence, the so-called "Tryst with destiny" speech, on the 14th of August 1947, he emphasized the crucial role of removing ignorance and therefore of the need for education, removing ill health, and therefore of health care, expansion, and so on... And when actually the process of economic development began, initially of course under Nehru's leadership... and little was done on that. So that gap between rhetoric on one side and action on the other, has been very strong. I don't think there is any point in blaming the rhetoric. I would rather have the rhetoric, but see that it be translated in some sense, and having the rhetoric at least makes it possible to argue, as some of us have tried to do, that there has been a deep inconsistency in Indian thinking, in Indian planning, in the governmental policies, in wanting one thing and doing another. And I am afraid that is always present, that level of, almost, schizophrenia, has been present throughout, over the last few decades, I mean, since Independence, over the last half a century, I would say.