Short Biography of Amartya Sen – The sixth Indian Nobel Laureate

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Amartya Sen became the sixth Indian Nobel Laureate. He was born in Santiniketan where his mother still lives. When he was just an infant he was taken to the First Indian Novel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. He was requested to give him a beautiful name. Tagore gave him the name Amartya Sen.

As a young student Sen had great interest in Sanskrit, Mathematics and Physics. He was greatly impressed by his maternal uncle Kshitish Mohan Sen. Amartya Sen drew inspiration from Shakespeare, George Bernard Shaw, Greek classics, Indian epics and Bengali literature. No one had an idea that ultimately this genius would opt for Economics which was considered a dismal science.

Amartya Sen changed the very way of thinking in the field of Economics. By now Economics dealt with the market economy, and Nobel Prize and other prizes were meant for those who dealt in market economy.

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Amartya Sen created a renaissance in the realms of economics that by now dealt with merely material gains and losses. The Nobel Prize citation says that Amartya Sen ‘has restored an ethical dimension to the vital economic problems.’ He is the first to make connection between Philosophy and Economics.

As he was born in Santiniketan the Ashram left a permanent impression on his life. When he was just a boy he saw the great famine of Bengal—how the people suffered in this natural calamity. He had also seen the holocaust during the days of partition. He could just see the human weakness and his strength too—weakness in surrendering before conventions—strength in facing the problems with valour.

Amartya Sen has a social vision of development. He believes that the remedy of all economic problems are in the forces of empowerment—empowerment to the hungry—to women and to destitutes. He believes not simply in theories but in grassroot realities. Thus his work begins at the point where the conventional economics fails. He had jointly worked with Draze, an economist, on the theory of empowerment i.e. not how to help the people when they are hungry or fall victim to famines; but how to avoid hunger and famines. He is of the firm view that reform without social policy is self-defeating. We should not dole out money but expand opportunities.

According to Sen India’s economic growth is checked by human factor. The Indian industrialist has contempt for the human factor. State should invest in quality of population. If there is better quality of men their consumption levels would rise. For this it is necessary to stop protection that the government provides to industrialists and big agriculturalists.

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Education at lower levels works miracles in economic progress. The country must raise the literacy levels as has been done in Korea and China. India’s literacy level is lower even than the most backward regions of Africa.

Medical care is necessary to improve the life expectancy levels. Life expectancy, according to Sen, is the mirror of economic achievement. Sen is happy that development Economics has been introduced as a discipline in many countries.

Even as a young lecturer Amartya Sen’s classes were full even in the zero period as he was the first to show connection between Philosophy and Economics. He compares Kautilya with Adam Smith. He had the honour of becoming Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford and Professor of Economics at London school of Economics.

Later on he joined Delhi school of Economics where he brought in a number of renovations. After remaining Lamont Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University Sen was the first Indian to become Master of Trinity College at Cambridge where he had initially started his studies as a student.

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Najma Heptulla, Deputy Chairperson of Rajya Sabha praises Sen for showing the causes of disparity between developed and developing countries According to her a pledge for universal elementary education is the sincere tribute to our Nobel Laureate. He is the golden midway between socialist planning and privatization. India has honoured herself by conferring Bharat Ratna on Amartya Sen.

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