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About Amartya Sen
Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor, Professor of Philosophy and Professor of Economics, at Harvard University. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, 1998-2004. His many books include Development as Freedom, Rationality and Freedom, The Argumentative Indian and Identity and Violence.
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Freedom, Sen persuasively argues, is at once the ultimate goal of social and economic arrangements and the most efficient means of realizing general welfare. Social institutions like markets, political parties, legislatures, the judiciary, and the media contribute to development by enhancing individual freedom and are in turn sustained by social values. Values, institutions, development, and freedom are all closely interrelated, and Sen links them together in an elegant analytical framework.
By asking 'What is the relation between our collective economic wealth and our individual ability to live as we would like?' and by incorporating individual freedom as a social commitment into his analysis Sen allows economics once again, as it did in the time of Adam Smith, to address the social
basis of individual well-being and freedom.
“One of the few world intellectuals on whom we may rely to make sense out of our existential confusion.”—Nadine Gordimer
In this sweeping philosophical work, Amartya Sen proposes that the murderous violence that has riven our society is driven as much by confusion as by inescapable hatred. Challenging the reductionist division of people by race, religion, and class, Sen presents an inspiring vision of a world that can be made to move toward peace as firmly as it has spiraled in recent years toward brutality and war.
From Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen, a long-awaited memoir about home, belonging, inequality, and identity, recounting a singular life devoted to betterment of humanity.
For Amartya Sen, “home” has been many places, including Dhaka, in modern Bangladesh, where he grew up; Calcutta, where he studied economics; and Cambridge, where he engaged with the greatest minds of the twentieth century. In Home in the World, these “homes” collectively form an unparalleled and truthful vision of twentieth- and twenty-first-century life.
With characteristic moral clarity, Sen reflects on cataclysmic events that tore his world asunder, from the Japanese assault on Burma and India to the Bengal famine of 1943, the struggle for Indian independence, and the outbreak of toxic nationalism that accompanied the end of British rule. Still, Sen—a tireless champion of the dispossessed—remains the fearless optimist, working now as ever to break down walls among warring ethnic groups. Both a book of penetrating ideas and people and places, Home in the World becomes a work of human empathy across distance and time, and of being at home in the world.
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.
issues, including distribution between different occupation groups, links up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analyzing starvation.
Why India's problems won't be solved by rapid economic growth alone
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.
O Nobel de Economia Amartya Sen nunca se contentou com os limites convencionais da ciência econômica. A chamada "economia do desenvolvimento", surgida nos anos 1950 como um ramo de estudo em separado, preocupava-se com os meios para promover o crescimento da renda per capita. Acreditava-se numa relação diretamente proporcional entre renda, consumo e satisfação. Ele tem contribuído bastante para refutar as falsas hipóteses que sustentam essa crença aparentemente inócua. Sen construiu sua visão alternativa apoiado na convicção de que a promoção do bem-estar (o que se quer afinal com o desenvolvimento) deve orientar-se por uma resposta adequada à pergunta ética por excelência: onde está o valor próprio da vida humana? Na vida de qualquer pessoa, certas coisas são valiosas por si mesmas, como estar livre de doenças evitáveis, escapar da morte prematura, estar bem alimentado, ser capaz de agir como membro de uma comunidade, agir livremente e não ser dominado pelas circunstâncias, ter oportunidade para desenvolver suas potencialidades. Há muitos males sociais que privam as pessoas de viverem minimamente bem: a pobreza extrema, a fome coletiva, a subnutrição, a destituição e a marginalização sociais, a privação de direitos básicos, a carência de oportunidades, a opressão e a insegurança econômica, política e social. Eles compartilham, diagnostica Sen, uma mesma natureza: são variedades de privação de liberdade.
Desenvolvimento como liberdade é uma síntese - escrita com bastante clareza e para leitores não especialistas - das vantagens teóricas e práticas de uma ideia radical: o desenvolvimento é essencialmente um processo de expansão das liberdades reais que as pessoas desfrutam. Trata-se de um livro fundamental para entender, sob ângulos não convencionais, a situação econômica e social de países pobres ou em desenvolvimento, como o Brasil, bastante presente nas análises de Sen, que ilustra suas ideias com um grande número de surpreendentes e esclarecedores dados comparativos entre os diversos países.
The introductory essay draws on the findings of the Commonwealth Commission on Respect and Understanding, which was chaired by Sen, and established to promote mutual communication and understanding among all faiths and communities in the Commonwealth. Its timely report, "Civil Paths to Peace", suggests that governments, media and educators – indeed, everyone – must take the time to understand the complexities around violent behaviour and its causes, without prejudging what these might be.