01 August, 2021

The Unheeded Conscience

We will lionise him, but will we ever listen to what he's saying?

The Unheeded Conscience

"Economic solutions are political questions" —Joan Robinson

HE was only nine when the sight of people starving to death on the streets of Calcutta in the 1943 Bengal famine rudely opened his eyes to a grossly unequal world. And prompted him to go beyond the metred discipline of Sanskrit, his grandfather's subject, towards the uncharted areas of the dismal science. At 23, he was the youngest professor in India. At 37 came his seminal work Collective Choice and Social Welfare and became an instant classic. The book was written for all; every chapter had two versions—one outlining the concept in algebraic logic and the other in lucid English for the lay reader. Says his teacher and mentor Tapas Mazumdar, professor emeritus, JNU: "That book should have got Amartya the Nobel straightaway."

From Shantiniketan to Stockholm, it's been a long, eventful journey for Amartya Kumar Sen. The interregnum saw many myths demolished by him in welfare and equality, many more values reinforced and new frontiers explored. And today, as the...

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