Tathagata Roy on Amartya Sen’s Jai Shree Ram comments: one must accept the new or else become laughing stock

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy on Sunday criticised Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen for his comments on “Jai Shree Ram”.

Sen had on Friday said at a programme in Kolkata that “Jai Shree Ram” chant is not part of the traditional Bengali culture and is a “recent import” which is being used to “beat up people” and to “wage a war”.

“Hasn’t he (Amartya Sen) heard of Ramrajatala and Serampore? But of course, that may not be possible as he stays abroad most of the time,” Roy tweeted.

He also said that Sen had won the Nobel Prize for economics and should stick to his subject. “Don’t we say ‘Ram-Ram when we are scared of ghosts?” Roy said.

Roy also tweeted that no one had heard “Inquilab Zindabaad” before the 1930s, no one had heard “Yeh Azaadi Jhoota Hai” prior to 1947. “There are many more of such phrases. One must accept the new, else one becomes a laughing stock,” Roy tweeted.

During a session in Kolkata’s Jadavpur University, Sen had said that he had come to know that Ram Navami is celebrated a lot in Bengal these days, but that never happened in the past. He explained that the way Durga Puja was celebrated in the state could not be compared with Ram Navami. “These are recent imports to wage a war,” he said.

Some incidents have been reported from different parts of West Bengal where Muslims were asked to chant “Jai Shree Ram” and beaten up, and Sen was possibly referring to those incidents when he had made the comment.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been consistently using the phrase in the state to wage a political war against Trinamool Congress and its chief Mamata Banerjee.

Prior to the elections, Banerjee stopped her car in Midnapore during an election campaign where people stood along the road chanting “Jai Shree Ram”. She came out of the car and the people chanting the slogan fled, and her words – unclear from the video – was used by the BJP to say that she had said “Jai Shree Ram” was an abuse.

Since then, there have been several occasions when Mamata Banerjee and her party members have encountered the slogan during their visits to different places in the state. Banerjee has planned to counter the slogan with “Jai Hind” and “Jai Bangla”.

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