Amartya Sen

The Argumentative Indian Publication date : May 25, 2007

India is a land of diversity, with vastly different convictions, widely divergent customs, and a multitude of viewpoints. How then can we hope to understand its varied history, culture and politics? Amartya Sen has chosen to stress India's long argumentative tradition, its pertinence for today, and its relative neglect in current discussions. He insists on the fact that the multiplicity of convictions and points of view that are characteristic of Indian thought imply an acceptance of heterodoxy and public discourse. He shows that this tradition of pluralism and dialogue sustains India's democracy, secular politics and the success of its scientific research, as well as taking part in enforcing social justice — despite the barriers of class, caste and gender. In addition, he examines the role played by communication in cultural development and understanding. Revealing the wealth of Indian culture, this fascinating book takes the reader from ancient to contemporary India, covering such diverse subjects as the status of India's different religions, the country's nuclear arms policy, and current debates on secularism and the influence of Western rationalism. Sen offers fresh insight into a crucial issue for all of us: How can diversity and differences create a living, coherent community? Besides his work as an economist specialising in the conditions of development, Sen has carried out for many years a reflection on the forces of Indian thought and culture and how they face modernity. The present volume presents this aspect of his unique reflection for the first time in French translation. Since earliest times, India has sought, perhaps more than any other country, to reconcile its deep-rooted traditions with change, to harmonise diversity and unity. Could India provide the world with a model for the future? Rebutting the usual Western clichés about India, Sen gives us a penetrating view of India's intellectual heritage. Amartya Sen is the winner of the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics and the inspiration behind the United Nations Development Programme. The author of the influential Development as Freedom, he is one of India's most eminent and internationally respected intellectuals. For many years the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge University, he is now a professor at Harvard University.