The mention of Prof Amartya Sen, the 82-year-old economist and philosopher, instantly tests the tolerance levels of Modi ‘bhakts’. Still, it would be useful for devotees and critics to listen to the Nobel laureate’s loud thinking that India cannot become a global economic superpower with an “uneducated and unhealthy labour force”. When the discourse about India’s future, based on smart-alecky slogans and numerical jiggery-pokery, borders on the rhapsodic, it takes courage of conviction to remind us that we have got our fundamentals wrong. Prof Sen does well to tell us that if the State does not spend enough on primary schools and health centres, and leaves it all to usurious “market forces”, there will be hell to pay. It’s not quite music to ears trained to hear adjusted GDP numbers, but this is the kind of clarity that makes Prof Sen so prophetic and popular on both sides of the Atlantic. Through his care and concern for the salt of the earth, he reminds us, and our rulers, of their precariousness.