Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen on Thursday said that the current situation in the country has become a cause for fear, and urged citizens to maintain unity, The Indian Express reported.

Sen made the statement at the inauguration ceremony of the Amartya Sen Research Centre in Kolkata’s Salt Lake area. He took part in a panel discussion on the topic “Back to School”, where former Delhi University professor Anita Rampal and economist Jean Dreze were among the other speakers.

“Tolerance has been a part of both Indian culture and Indian education, but more than tolerance, India needs unity in the current situation,” Sen said.

The Nobel laureate said that he did not want divisions in a country that has been “historically liberal”, and added that citizens from different religions needed to work together, PTI reported.

Sen added that although the “environment around us” might try to remove Muslim influence from history, truth could not be tampered with.

“India is Aryabhata’s India,” he said, referring to the ancient mathematician and astronomer. “India is the country setting an example to the whole world in the practice of science.”

The 88-year-old economist has expressed concerns about divisive politics and authoritarianism on several occasions in the past as well.

In July 2021, Sen had deplored the widespread suppression of public discussion in India, and said that several persons were being incarcerated without being tried. In an interview with The Indian Express, he had remarked that the Narendra Modi-led government had made the life of tribal rights activist Stan Swamy more difficult in custody.

Swamy was one of the accused persons in the Bhima Koregaon case and had been jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, but was repeatedly denied bail. He died in a Mumbai hospital on July 5.