Amplifying Amartya Sen’s “collapse of the nation” theory

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Amartya Sen

By Syed Ali Mujtaba

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen  says India has entered into a dangerous phase that can best be described as the “Collapse of the Nation.” His idea needs to be amplified because Professor Sen is India’s one of the most distinguished citizens.

Let’s put on the table what Professor Sen has observed about contemporary India and why he calls it the “Collapse of the Nation.” His words are of wisdom, if not a gospel of truth.

The first thing Sen points that India is witnessing a shift toward a majoritarian state and that he calls the sign of the “Collapse of the Nation” and he asks whether ‘majoritarianism is an end of all? First of all, democracy is not just a majoritarian rule, he says and adds, it also involves minority rights, and it involves freedom and liberty of expression, and so on….

“Those ruling the country do not constitute a majority, because the reason for their power is their apt use of the tools of our political system. I think in modern days, the majority and minority cannot be decided based on who is a Hindu or who is a Muslim, as it is not really clear who is a Hindu’’ he said.

The result of 2014 or 2019 only reflects that the victorious party was successful in a particular system. The result was due to a particular approach to engaging with the electoral procedure in the given political system. The results were defiantly not a common reflection of the collective consciousness of the nation, he added.

The second point that the Nobel laureate makes is the religious divide between Hindu s and Muslims have reached a tipping point. There is a fear factor among Muslims and their mental makeup is they are a minority and hence will always be deprived and have to suffer. This is the point of no return and such thought is the symptom of the “Collapse of the Nation.”

India is not a country representing Hindu culture alone, Professor Sen said, adding that Muslim culture is also part of the country’s vibrant history. I don’t think Hindus as a group may be able to take credit for all that is India.

“Even though the environment around us might try to change the history and remove Muslim influence, we all know that truth can’t be tampered with.”

Professor Sen drew inferences from how the Mughal influence holds major importance in the study of Indian History. He said that Dara Shikoh, Shah Jahan’s eldest son, translated 50 Upanishads from the original Sanskrit to Persian and this enabled the world to know about Hindu scriptures, Hindu culture, and Hindu traditions. It was from Persian translation Upanishads were translated to several European languages that made the world know about the ancient literary text of India.

Now when the divisive agenda of the rewriting and erasure of history is being done by the self-professed narrators of truths, can the facts of history be changed or truth can be eroded through such acts. Obviously, this is the symptom of the “Collapse of the Nation.”

The next point Professor Sen makes is the balance between the judiciary, the legislature, and the bureaucracy is being eroded. The power of the Judiciary to exercise judicial review over legislative and executive actions is in tatters. What is seen is the Judiciary that is bound by the procedure established by law in adjudication on question of law is failing in its duties. The judiciary often overlooks the dangers of divisive agendas being paraded. On the contrary, it’s invoking Colonial laws to put people behind bars. That’s definitely not a healthy sign and it points toward the “Collapse of the Nation.”

The other point Professor Sen made is the lack of tolerance in India that has made the prevailing situation in the country stressful. The Nobel laureate said “India had an inherent culture of tolerance because “Muslims, Jews, Christians, and Parsis had lived side by side with us for ages. The current situation in the country has become a cause of fear because many things are happening that suggest that Hindus are becoming less tolerant these days. The way derogatory remarks are being made against the Muslims and their Prophet is a symptom that Hindus and Muslims are falling apart. India is passing through “an extraordinary situation and this is the ominous sign of the “Collapse of the Nation.”

The next point the renowned economist make is India is becoming weak from within. He expressed fears about fragmentation and raised his concerns over it. He stressed that more than tolerance the country needs unity now. “Tolerance has been a part of both Indian culture and Indian education, but more than tolerance, India needs unity in the current situation.” The people need to understand that it is not a matter of just tolerance but more than that country needs to remain as united as before, Professor Sen said and appealed that we, as citizens, have to safeguard our nation’s unity and shared history and culture.

The noble laureate minced no words in saying there is enough reason to be afraid of India and if anyone asks me, are you scared about India, I would say yes and that’s about the “Collapse of the Nation.”

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at

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