Amartya Sen thanks Mamata for her assist

Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service
Kolkata, December 28

Noted economist Amartya Sen has thanked West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for supporting him after he was accused by the Visva Bharati University of illegal land grabbing.

Banerjee on Friday wrote to Sen, winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics in 1998, expressing support for him in the controversy. Some “nouveau invaders” were raising baseless allegations, the Bengal Chief Minister said in the letter addressed to Sen whom she called “Amartya da” (meaning elder brother Amartya, an address that denotes familiarity in the Bengali culture).

In his reply dated December 27, Sen wrote that he was very happy to receive Banerjee’s wonderfully supportive letter.

“I am not only most touched, but also very reassured that despite the busy life you have to lead, you can find time for reassuring people under attack,” Sen wrote to West Bengal CM.

Sen, who is 87 years of age and currently Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, wrote that Banerjee’s strong voice and her “full understanding of what was going on” was a tremendous source of strength for him.

In her letter to Sen, Mamata had written that he was being targeted by the authorities of Visva Bharati, a centrally-tun university, for speaking out against the Narendra Modi-led regime in Delhi. “I want to express my solidarity with you in your battles against bigotry of majoritarians in this country, the battles that have made you an enemy of these forces of untruth”, Mamata wrote in the letter.

Replying to Mamata, Sen wrote that he deeply appreciated the warmth of her extremely kind letter and would like to convey to her his affection and admiration.

Sen wrote “Dear Mamata” at the beginning of the letter while asking if he could call her that (address her by the first name). Sen, a recipient of the country’s highest civilian award “Bharat Ratna”, signed off the letter as “Amartya” (instead of Amartya-da which Mamata would have perhaps preferred).

Amartya Sen is the latest among the Bengali icons to be dragged into the bitter fight for the soon to be held state elections, for which the BJP has posed a strong challenge to Mamata Banerjee.

Poet Tagore also figured in political wrangling between the state’s ruling TMC and BJP after Prime Minister Narendra Modi talked about the poet’s Gujarat connection while speaking virtually on the occasion of the centenary celebrations of the foundation day of Vishva Bharati University.

Amartya Sen, who was given his name by none other than Tagore himself, was born in Santiniketan where his father, educationist Ashutosh Sen, had built the family’s home, “Pratichi”.

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