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Now, without a doubt nobody could question the credentials of Amartya Sen as an ecomonist.  After all he is noble laureate and also Bharat Ratna, but in the recent times with his controversial remarks on secularism really paved my curiosity to know his real thinking about the nation which was his birth place.  In this book, two leading economists of India set out to expose a deeper and impassioned understanding of the country as they attempt to mark out the argument for indulging in the study of inequalities and opportunities afforded to residents notwithstanding the country’s affinity for high economic development.

After two centuries of imperialism and colonial subjugation India attained its Independence in 1947.  In its attempt to earn the freedom of its people, the founding fathers adopted a firm and fair system of democracy to usher in a new chapter in the history of India.  The economists place their argument in the period that lay hereafter and the basic flaws in the Indian system.  They stress on the attention needed for the marginalized if there is a view to sustain growth and lead the development trajectory into a more dominant position.

The book explicates the progress of the nation as it overcame the economic lag to earning a growth rate that soon made it the second fastest growing economy in the world.  For Dreze and Sen the focus however lies elsewhere and it is in determining the essential needs of the people and bridging the gap of opportunities that they believe there is a chance for India to cash in its true realization of freedom.  They discuss the deep inequalities that are entrenched in the Indian system and how the resulting failure to develop human capabilities is stunting its growth.  In another vein the economists believe the importance of sustainable growth that is also environmentally conscious and in that respect they lay out the failures of the economy to develop their backbone of infrastructure adequately.  The incompetent tackling of public resources that has accrued to India’s phenomenal growth in developing social services and infrastructure is a major concern for the economists.  They believe that the quality of life in India is the major concern and therefore the needs and social deprivations of the majority of the people who are among the lower rungs are of priority basis and need to be addressed.  The authors lay out a premise for a stronger democratic ethic that concentrates on these neglected corners of Indian policy in this enlightening treatise.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:  Jean Dreze is an Indian development economist of Belgian origin.  His works include The Political Economy Of Hunger, Hunger And Public Action, The Economics Of Famine, Public Report On Basic Education In India, and India: Development and Participation.  Jean Dreze was born in 1959 in Belgium.  He has a degree in Mathematical Economics from the University of Essex and a Ph.d from the Indian Statistical Institute.  He became an Indian citizen in 2002 and is the conceptualizer of NREGA.  He is currently an honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics and also a Professor at Allahabad University.

Amartya Sen is an Indian Nobel laureate economist and philosopher.  His other books include The Argumentative Indian, The Idea of Justice, Development as Freedom, and Peace and Democratic Society.  Sen was born in 1933 in Santiniketan in Bengal.  He holds two B.A. degrees, an M.A. degree, and a Ph.d.  He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998.  He is currently the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard.  His books have been translated to over 30 languages.

MY TAKE:  This book presents a powerful analysis not only of India's deprivations and inequalities, but also of the restraints on addressing them and of the possibility of change through democratic practice.  They present a strong case for public expenditure on education, healthcare and employment leading to better capabilities and opportunities.  This, they claim, will accelerate economic growth.  If the economics of the country do tend to make you curious could give it a try, even if not from the same field.  The rest your take as the questionable assumptions may leave you somewhat tizzy.

BOOK DETAILS:

AUTHOR                      Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen

PUBLISHER                  Allen Lane

LANGUAGE                 English

NUMBER OF PAGES  448 Pages

PRICE:                          699

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