Here is another link from Live Mint about an interview with the Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen. In the interview he talks about his latest book, Collective Choice and Social Welfare, in which he argues that a democracy isn’t just about casting votes. It’s also about people arguing with each other.
There is nothing wrong in this argument. Of course people should be able to argue with each other and have open debates without being threatened and accused of communalism and this phobia and that phobia.
But then he says that the space for public reasoning has shrunk in India whereas, it’s totally the opposite that is happening. More people are able to express themselves. The Internet, especially social media, has democratised public discourse. No longer a particular clique can peddle its lies unchallenged. Every motivated propaganda is challenged. Every news that is suppressed is brought to the notice of the public. Every information that is being misrepresented, gets represented properly.
Noted lyricist Javed Akhtar condescendingly talked about “less literate” sportspersons talking about national issues and immediately had to face a backlash not just from the sports persons but also from general public. This couldn’t have happened in the “Golden Times” Amartya Sen talks of when they would have been no means for the sports persons to respond to Akhtar’s stupid retort.
This is what Javed Akhtar tweeted:
If a hardly literate player or a wrestler troll a pacifist daughter of a martyr its understandable but whats wrong with some educated folks
— Javed Akhtar (@Javedakhtarjadu) February 28, 2017
His tweet was in response to a few tweets published by Indian players in the wake of the Gurmehar controversy. Below, I have pasted some of the tweets by these players:
— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) February 26, 2017
— Deepa Malik (@DeepaAthlete) February 28, 2017
Haryana ki hi hain hum Phogat sister bhi. Kya jante h aap haryana k bare me . https://t.co/ZWtl5fnEXJ
— Babita Phogat (@BabitaPhogat) February 27, 2017
— Mahavir Phogat (@MahabirPhogat) February 28, 2017
It’s not that the space for arguing with each other is shrinking, it is expanding, and this is the real problem for people like Amartya Sen. Just imagine, a couple of decades ago, me publishing a newsletter that is sent to more than 500 people (at the time of writing this) and among them on an average 20% opening it and reading it, every day.
These intellectuals first fabricate a world and then they start creating stories and hypothesis around that world to such an extent that everybody starts believing that it is an actual world and the threats posed by this world are also actual.
Fortunately, contrary to what Amartya Sen says, the space for public reasoning is much expanded now and everybody can participate.
The problem with the leftist intelligentsia is, they haven’t yet learned how to deal with this new level playing field.