Modi government most anti-intellectual: Chidambaram hits back at PM
Former Finance Minister and senior Congress leader P. Chidambaram on Friday termed the Narendra Modi government as "the most anti-intellectual in the world" after the Prime Minister mocked critics of demonetisation, saying 'hard work more powerful than Harvard'.
"We have the most anti-intellectual government in the world, because it even thinks that Dr Amartya Sen, professor of Harvard University, is undeserving of any respect," said Chidambaram, who too did his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1968.
"It thinks that Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard are all useless," said Chidambaram, delivering a speech at a seminar on "Untold Stories of Demonetisation - its impact on Indian Economy".
Modi, in a speech on Wednesday had mocked Nobel laureate Amartya Sen for criticising the note ban, after the government released data citing encouraging GDP growth figures at 7 per cent for the third quarter. Modi said that "hard work has won over Harvard-educated economists" who had predicted otherwise.
"Well-known intellectuals from Harvard and Oxford (universities), who have been at key positions in the Indian economic system, had said the Gross Domestic Product will go down by two per cent; some others said it will go down by four per cent," Modi said at an election rally in Uttar Pradesh.
"On one hand, there are these intellectuals who talk about Harvard, and on the other, there is this son of a poor mother, who is trying to change the country's economy through hard work."
Whether Harvard will win or hard work -- farmers, labourers and honest people of the country have already proved it, Modi said.
"Hard work is more powerful than Harvard. India is among the world's fastest growing economies," Modi said.
Amartya Sen has dubbed the November 8 demonetisation -- in which Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes were scrapped -- as a "despotic action that has struck at the root of economy based on trust".
Sen is Professor of Economics and Philosophy at the Harvard University.
On Thursday, the Congress party slammed the "fudged figures" on India's GDP growth, and said that trotting out "jumlas and misinformation" has become the 'hallmark' of Prime Minister Modi.