Religious intolerance an industry: Amartya Sen

Getting offended on religious grounds has become a “major industry” in the country, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen said on Friday, as he called for resisting intolerance that undermines democracy.

Sen said there is a need for a relook at provisions in Indian Penal Code like Section 377 and Section 295-A (hurting religious sentiments) that are remnants of the British rule.

Delivering Rajendra Mathur Memorial Lecture on “The Centrality of Right to Dissent” organised by the Editors Guild of India, he said one needs to look at the Constitution to defend freedom of expression and not the penal code.

“The sentiments of religious sections are loosely defined and is a remnant of British rule introduced in 1927. It sends a person to jail for hurting sentiments, however personal and bizarelly delicate that sentiment might be,” Sen said. Responding to a question later, he said, “getting offended is a major industry.”

Constitutional right
“The constitution does not have any problem in any one eating beef or storing beef in refrigerator. Eggs are being taken from meals for students in schools like in Madhya Pradesh because it hurts the vegetarian sentiments of some groups,” he said.

He also questioned the continuation of Section 377 in the penal code and expressed happiness at the constitution bench of the Supreme Court hearing the matter again.

Silencing of dissent generates fear in the minds of people violates the demand for personal liberty. This leads to the very problem of having a dialogue based democracy, he said.
DH News Service

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