Amitav Ghosh
Amitav Ghosh

Padma Shri awardee author Amitav Ghosh said that he will not vote for Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Speaking to a new channel, the author said that for him Modi was someone culpable for the Gujarat riots of 2002.

The acclaimed author said that it was horrifying for him to see the way Hindu nationalism was being merged with politics.

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The annual Jaipur Literature festival begins on Friday amidst expectations of nearly 2 lakh visitors at the historic Diggi palace in the city. The gathering this time will see the likes of several Nobel prize winners, Booker prize winners. The big faces who will grace the occasion will be Jonathan Franzen, Amartya Sen, Jhumpa Lahiri and Gloria Steinem among others.

AMARTYASENThe NYT review of  ‘An Uncertain Glory,’ by Jean Drèze and Amartya Sen

In late June, a television reporter named Narayan Pargaien spent three days in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand to cover the region’s devastating monsoon floods, which have killed more than 5,700 people. Like most journalists covering the disaster, Pargaien dutifully described families who had lost everything, including their modest thatch-roofed homes. Unlike most journalists, Pargaien reported from the scene while perched on the shoulders of a flood victim in the middle of a swollen river. As the outrage poured in, Pargaien tried to explain himself. In an interview with the Indian Web site Newslaundry, he said the man who carried him had insisted upon it. “He was grateful to us and wanted to show me some respect,” Pargaien said, “as it was the first time someone of my level had visited his house.”

AMARTYASENCritics and supporters of the country’s economic liberalisation make the same error–they forget about pollution and population, says Partha Dasgupta, the Frank Ramsey Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Cambridge in the Prospect

A central message of modern development economics is the importance of income growth. By this, economists tend to mean growth in gross domestic product, or the market value of what a country produces (including services). In theory, rising GDP creates employment and investment opportunities; and as incomes grow, both citizens and government are increasingly able to set aside funds for the things that make for a good life. One of the tasks of government is to establish conditions that encourage this kind of economic development. Its role should thus be active (protecting the rule of law; investing in infrastructure, health and education) and passive (permitting markets to operate). Of course, GDP growth in itself doesn’t guarantee an equitable distribution of incomes, but that problem can be offset by government taxes and transfers. Or so the argument would have it.

An undertain glory
An undertain glory

At a time when the public discourse is all about the falling GDP growth rate and India’s economic troubles, Professors Amartya Sen and Jean Dreze shake you up with their latest book, An Uncertain Glory — India and Its Contradictions. It is not the slowdown that is a worry — indeed, growth will return presently. The bigger concern for India today should be the continuing deep disparities in society that are only widening with every percentage point growth in GDP.

India’s democracy, say the authors, has failed to rise to the challenges the country faces in the economic and social fields; and worse, it has been compromised by the extent and form of social inequality. Whether it is education, health care, female literacy, sanitation, or nutrition, India fares only marginally better than countries in sub-Saharan Africa.