The Argumentative Economist

Amartya Sen’s new book “The Argumentative Indian” is reviewed by Sunil Khilani, Soumya Bhattacharya, Pankaj Mishra and John Walsh.

No big admirer of Pankaj Mishra otherwise, I found his review to be the only meaningful one, actually trying to engage with the economist’s book, though somewhat rhetorical towards the end.

Sunil Khilani is as wry as he was in his somewhat weak defence of Nehru in “The Idea of India”. Soumya Bhattacharya seems to be too much in awe of Sen to present us comprehensively with either what Sen says in the book or stops short of saying. John Walsh offers only a slightly more informative, but still less argumentative review.

A pdf file of Sen’s lecture refering to his book is available at the Indian Planning Commision site.

Having said that, one only needs to reiterate the necessity for this Reader- the self- proclaimed student of another passionately argumentative Sen, to read the book too.

I may be wrong and perhaps need to read more of A. Sen, but I do have a gnawing feeling that he tends to tread delicately (diplomatically?) between liberalism and the Left- between Mill and Marx, the two of the three influences on him that he mentioned in his Nobel speech. This is not to berate the man, but perhaps what he is articulating is nothing more than an academic variation of ‘The Third Way’ charted by Anthony Giddens, Manuel Castells and of course, in political terms most obviously by Tony Blair.

Manmohan Singh’s speech at the release of Sen’s book.

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