This Article is From Feb 20, 2015

'Am Free to Criticise PM Modi; Doesn't Give Government Right to Interfere': Amartya Sen to NDTV

A day after exiting as chancellor of Nalanda University and alleging that the government did not want him to continue, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen told NDTV that his views on Prime Minister Narendra Modi should not interfere with a university.

"As an Indian voter, it is my liberty to like a candidate or not. On the other side, it's for the board to decide on the chancellor. If the government has taken a view - I don't know whether the PM had but if he had - it would be asymmetric because it's not his role," said Dr Sen, who had criticized PM Modi during last year's national election.

On Thursday, the renowned economist opted out of a second term as Nalanda University Chancellor despite the governing board unanimously voting to elect him on January 13.

In a five-page letter to the board, accessed exclusively by NDTV, Dr Sen said he is, "...sad, at a more general level that academic governance in India remains so deeply vulnerable to opinions of the ruling government..."

Referring to President Pranab Mukherjee, who is Visitor to the university, Dr Sen wrote "something makes it difficult - or impossible - for him to act with speed in this matter."

He wrote that he decided not to continue in the post after a month of silence on the board's decision from both the President's House and the foreign ministry, which is involved because of the presence of representatives of several Asian countries in the board.

Asked whether he thought the prime minister had personally opposed his appointment, Dr Sen said, "I think it would be megalomaniacal to think the PM had a role because of my criticism of him."

The foreign ministry today said there was "no attempt to curtail Dr Sen's term." It claimed that it had only received an extract of the board's decision, not the minutes, so could not respond.

"We can only act once we receive approved minutes of the Board. These are yet to be received by us," said foreign ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.