Economist Amartya Sen on Sunday said the country has taken a “quantum jump in the wrong direction” since 2014 even though it is the fastest-growing economy in the world, PTI reported. Sen was speaking at the launch of Bharat Aur Uske Virodhabhas, the Hindi edition of his book An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradiction that he has co-authored with economist Jean Dreze.

Sen said that 20 years ago India was the second best country in South Asia after Sri Lanka, IANS reported. “Now, it is the second worst,” he added. “Pakistan has managed to shield us from being the worst.”

Sen said the government has done nothing to address inequalities, and the problems faced by Dalits and the scheduled tribes. The demands of people who clean lavatories and sewage with their hands have been neglected.

The economist talked about a recent report of a Dalit youth in Madhya Pradesh who was whipped 100 times for asking for an increase in his salary. Dalits are going around without any kind of certainty about their next meal, healthcare or education, he added.

Sen said Opposition unity is important and that it is not a battle between Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi. “It is an issue of what India is,” he added.

Jean Dreze called the soon-to-be launched Ayushmann Bharat health scheme a hoax. “The budget [for the scheme] for this year is Rs 2,000 crore,” he observed. “Even if it is spent, it is less than Rs 20 per person.” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the healthcare plan in his Budget speech on February 1, and the Union Cabinet approved it in March.