Not ‘Jai Shri Ram’ but Maa Durga associated with Bengali culture, says Amartya Sen

The Jai Shri Ram slogan is not associated with the Bengali culture and it is being used as a pretext to beat up people, Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen has said. Speaking at a programme in the Jadavpur University in Kolkata on Friday, Sen said that among deities, it was Maa Durga who has been omnipresent in the lives of Bengalis. Sens comments came in the backdrop of a section of the people in several parts of the country, especially West Bengal, have been forcing others to chant Jai Shri Ram and beating them if they refuse to chant the slogan. He said that even the celebration of Ram Navami has been gaining popularity now and he had never heard of it being observed before. The significance of Maa Durga cannot be compared with Ram Navami, he added. He further said that it is a serious matter if people of a particular religion are scared to move freely or are fear-bound. The Nobel laureate recounted that once he had asked his four-year-old grandchild about her favourite deity and she replied that it was Maa Durga. Sen also spoke on poverty and said that rising income level of the poor alone would not reduce their plight. Poverty can be reduced by providing basic healthcare, education and social security, he added. Sens remarks received sharp criticism from the BJP as partys West Bengal president Dilip Ghosh said that Sen did not know about Bengali culture. Sen probably doesn Does he know about Bengali or Indian culture? Jai Shri Ram is chanted in very village. Now entire Bengal says it, news agency ANI quoted Ghosh as saying. The furore over Jai Shri Ram began in West Bengal after CM Mamata Banerjees sharp reaction to a group of men chanting the slogan when her convoy was passing through Bhatpara in North 24 Parganas district. She alleged that the BJP supporters were behind the incident. Also, the BJP had launched a campaign of sending postcards with Jai Shri Ram written on them to the Bengal CM. The BJP accused Banerjee of putting in jail people who raised the slogan in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.