Sonipat: The Narendra Modi government is currently clueless about the economy and needs help, as it “lacks talent in economic management”, ThePrint’s Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta said Monday.
Speaking at ThePrint’s free speech campus initiative Democracy Wall, organised at the O.P. Jindal Global University in Sonipat, Haryana, Gupta said the government lost all its qualified economists as it is “talent averse”, attributing this talent deficit to the likes of BJP leaders who disregarded Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee’s scholarship.
But he also said that just because someone has won a Nobel Prize that does not mean one has to agree on everything. “I don’t agree with Abhijit Banerjee on many things,” he said.
On free speech
The audience at the event mainly comprised law and journalism students, who had several questions for Gupta.
Asked about a quality that good leaders should have, Gupta quipped: “I am no Kautilya who can think of an idea for a Chandragupta.”
A student asked Gupta to explain where free speech ends and hate speech begins. He replied it’s extremely easy to distinguish the two, and characterised hate speech as incitement to violence and hatred against someone.
Gupta also said there is a huge difference between hate speech and criticism, saying: “I have never blocked, reported or muted anyone.”
He further said that values like free speech, democracy and equality come under threat when society starts taking them for granted. “There is a constant need for reminders… the Emergency was one such reminder,” he added.
‘Pakistan is no threat to India’
Speaking about Pakistan and its dominance as an issue in Indian politics, Gupta explained that the issue is not with foreign policy, but India’s domestic policy.
He said: “In today’s world, to think you will completely black out a country, that too a nuclear weapon state and a neighbour, is unsustainable.”
Gupta also explained that people are bored of Pakistan as it is no threat to India, and that it is a cheque that has been encashed, which is why in the recent Haryana and Maharashtra elections, issues like Pakistan and Article 370 did not have any resonance.
“People are emotional but not stupid,” he added.
On Delhi’s notorious smog, Gupta said it cannot be reduced by only asking Haryana and Punjab to stop stubble burning, but by sitting down and talking to Pakistan, as the air moves from west to east.
Talking about the world order and India’s place in it, Gupta explained that for India to have a place on top, it needs to work on its strengths.
He listed three main strengths — India’s social composition and diversity, the talent of its population, and its democratic system and institutions. Gupta stressed on the need to develop and focus on these strengths to become a key player in the world.
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