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R. Jagannathan in the DNA on Amartya Sen's latest:
The book does not say anything Amartya Sen has not already said before. He has criticised our excessive preoccupation with building "just" institutions instead of a "just" society. The latter would include good institutions, but one would monitor outcomes of actual societal behaviour and keep making course corrections. Debates over what constitutes a just order are also less important than adopting a common-sense approach to reducing gross injustices through public reasoning.
The best part of Sen's jargon-filled book is where he explains his ideas through examples. This is where Ashoka, Akbar and Arjuna figure in large doses. Through Sen's lens, all three emerge as one-dimensional heroes, reasoning automatons, not real people.
Jaithirth Rao in the Indian Express joins issue with Amartya Sen's recent expressions of "closeness, attachment, even fondness, for the leftist parties in India’s polity":
Contemporary Indian leftists represent their own selfish party interests and their sense of misplaced historical determinism which is locked in a time-warp. They do not care for underprivileged citizens and certainly do not care to improve the lot of the poor. In Sen’s own paradigm, Indian leftists pursue purist, ideologically correct “Niti”. They have no concern for “Nyaya” or just consequences...
...The final nail in the coffin of leftist pretensions has been driven in by two recent data points. The Sachar Commission tells us that Muslim citizens in West Bengal are on every count worse off than their counterparts in most other states, not excluding much-maligned Gujarat. And West Bengal has been virtually the last state in implementation of the NREGA. So much for the Left’s concern for “Nyaya” for Muslim citizens or the rural poor!
Read the full piece: Set the record straight
Hasan Suroor, in the Hindu, describes a little quiz that Amartya Sen tried on his audience at the London Literature Festival the other day:
Three children — Anne, Bob and Carla — are quarrelling over a flute: Anne claims the flute on the ground that she is the only one of the three who knows how to play it; Bob demands it on the basis that he is so poor that — unlike others — he has no other toys to play with and it would therefore mean a lot to him if the flute were given to him; and Carla says that it belongs to her because she has made it with her own labour.
The important thing to note here is that none of the claimants questions their rival’s argument but claims that his or hers is the most persuasive. So, who deserves the flute?
Should it go to the child for whom it represents the only source of entertainment as he has no other toys to play with? Or to the one who can actually make practical use of it; or to the child to whom it must belong by virtue of her ``right” to the fruits of her labour?