Amartya Sen

Amartya Kumar Sen, is an Indian economist who since 1972 has taught and worked in the United Kingdom and the United States. He has made contributions to welfare economics, social choice theory, economic and social justice, economic theories of famines, and indexes of the measure of well-being of citizens of developing countries. He was awarded the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 for his work in welfare economics.
He is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University. He is also a senior fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, distinguished fellow of All Souls College, Oxford and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, where he previously served as Master from 1998 to 2004.
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Amartya Sen
A Nobel Laureate offers a dazzling new book about his native country
India is a country with many distinct traditions, widely divergent customs, vastly different convictions, and a veritable feast of viewpoints. In The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen draws on a lifetime study of his country's history and culture to suggest the ways we must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition.
The millenia-old texts and interpretations of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, agnostic, and atheistic Indian thought demonstrate, Sen reminds us, ancient and well-respected rules for conducting debates and disputations, and for appreciating not only the richness of India's diversity but its need for toleration.
Though Westerners have often perceived India as a place of endless spirituality and unreasoning mysticism, he underlines its long tradition of skepticism and reasoning, not to mention its secular contributions to mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, medicine, and political economy.
Sen discusses many aspects of India's rich intellectual and political heritage, including philosophies of governance from Kautilya's and Ashoka's in the fourth and third centuries BCE to Akbar's in the 1590s; the history and continuing relevance of India's relations with China more than a millennium ago; its old and well-organized calendars; the films of Satyajit Ray and the debates between Gandhi and the visionary poet Tagore about India's past, present, and future.
The success of India's democracy and defense of its secular politics depend, Sen argues, on understanding and using this rich argumentative tradition. It is also essential to removing the inequalities (whether of caste, gender, class, or community) that mar Indian life, to stabilizing the now precarious conditions of a nuclear-armed subcontinent, and to correcting what Sen calls the politics of deprivation. His invaluable book concludes with his meditations on pluralism, on dialogue and dialectics in the pursuit of social justice, and on the nature of the Indian identity.
Jean Drèze
When India became independent in 1947 after two centuries of colonial rule, it immediately adopted a firmly democratic political system, with multiple parties, freedom of speech, and extensive political rights. The famines of the British era disappeared, and steady economic growth replaced the economic stagnation of the Raj. The growth of the Indian economy quickened further over the last three decades and became the second fastest among large economies. Despite a recent dip, it is still one of the highest in the world.

Maintaining rapid as well as environmentally sustainable growth remains an important and achievable goal for India. In An Uncertain Glory, two of India's leading economists argue that the country's main problems lie in the lack of attention paid to the essential needs of the people, especially of the poor, and often of women. There have been major failures both to foster participatory growth and to make good use of the public resources generated by economic growth to enhance people's living conditions. There is also a continued inadequacy of social services such as schooling and medical care as well as of physical services such as safe water, electricity, drainage, transportation, and sanitation. In the long run, even the feasibility of high economic growth is threatened by the underdevelopment of social and physical infrastructure and the neglect of human capabilities, in contrast with the Asian approach of simultaneous pursuit of economic growth and human development, as pioneered by Japan, South Korea, and China.

In a democratic system, which India has great reason to value, addressing these failures requires not only significant policy rethinking by the government, but also a clearer public understanding of the abysmal extent of social and economic deprivations in the country. The deep inequalities in Indian society tend to constrict public discussion, confining it largely to the lives and concerns of the relatively affluent. Drèze and Sen present a powerful analysis of these deprivations and inequalities as well as the possibility of change through democratic practice.

Jean Drèze
WIDER Studies in Development Economics The World Institute for Development Economics Research, established in 1984, started work in Helsinki in 1985, with the financial support of the Government of Finland. The principal purpose of the Institute is to help identify and meet the need for policy-oriented socio-economic research on pressing global and development problems and their inter-relationships. WIDER's research projects are grouped into three main themes: hunger and poverty; money, finance, and trade; and development and technological transformation. BL Sen is an internationally renowned, prizewinning economist This volume is the first of three addressing a wide range of policy issues relating to the role of public action in combating hunger and deprivation in the modern world. It deals with the background nutritional, economic, social, and political aspects of the problem of world hunger. Topics covered include the characteristics and causal antecedents of famines and endemic deprivation, the interconnections between economic and political factors, the role of social relations and the family, the special problems of women's deprivation, the connection between food consumption and other indicators of living standards, and the medical aspects of undernourishment and its consequences. Several contributions also address the political background of public policy, in particular the connection between the government and the public, including the role of newspapers and the media, and the part played by political commitment and by adversarial politics and pressures. Taken together, these essays provide a comprehensive and authoritative analysis of the problem of hunger and deprivation, and an important guide for action.
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