The Hindu nationalist regime has cultivated religious animosity – undermining the nation’s secular traditions
Nothing is as important, the philosopher Immanuel Kant claimed, as the “freedom to make public use of one’s reason on all matters”. Unfortunately, as Kant also noted, the opportunity to argue is often restrained by society – sometimes very severely. A disturbing fact about the world today is that authoritarian tendencies have been strikingly on the increase in many countries – in Asia, in Europe, in Latin America, in Africa and within the United States of America. I fear I have to include my own country, India, in that unfortunate basket.
After India secured independence from British colonial rule, it had for many decades a fine history of being a secular democracy with much personal liberty. People showed their commitment to freedom and their determination to remove authoritarian governance through decisive public action, for example in the general elections in 1977, in which the despotic regulations – dressed as “the emergency” – were firmly rejected by the people. The government obeyed promptly.
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Amartya Sen is a Harvard professor and Nobel-prize winning economist. Continue reading...
This is an edited extract of a speech that he gave upon winning the 2020 Peace prize of the German Book Trade