'Crude' system sows division

October 31, 2003

Amartya Sen, master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and a Nobel laureate in economics, this week denounced the Samuel Huntingdon classification of the world into largely religiously defined civilisations as "shallow and divisive".

In his keynote address to the conference of Commonwealth education ministers, Professor Sen said the system was crude, putting India, for example, in the box of Hindu civilisation even though it had more Muslims than many so-called Muslim countries.

"Our identities have many components, related to nationality, language, location, class, occupation, history, religion, political beliefs and so on," he said. Religion-based classifications could contribute to political insecurity, pitting religious groups against one another.

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