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Amartya Kumar Sen (; born 3 November 1933) is an Indian economist and philosopher, who since 1972 has taught and worked in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
and the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
. Sen has made contributions to
welfare economics Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomics, microeconomic techniques to evaluate well-being (welfare) at the aggregate (economy-wide) level. Attempting to apply the principles of welfare economics gives rise to the fiel ...
,
social choice theory Social choice theory or social choice is a theoretical A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense o ...
,
economic An economy (; ) is an area of the production Production may be: Economics and business * Production (economics) * Production, the act of manufacturing goods * Production, in the outline of industrial organization, the act of making products ...
and
social justice Social justice is justice in terms of the distribution of wealth Wealth is the abundance of valuable financial asset A financial asset is a non-physical asset whose value is derived from a contractual claim, such as deposit (finance), ban ...
, economic theories of
famine A famine is a widespread scarcity of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual con ...

famine
s, decision theory, development economics, public health, and measures of well-being of countries. He is currently a Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
. He formerly served as Master of
Trinity CollegeTrinity College may refer to: Australia * Trinity Anglican College, an Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican coeducational primary and secondary school in , New South Wales * Trinity Catholic College, Auburn, a coeducational school in the inner-we ...
at the
University of Cambridge , mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts. Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge. , established = , other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of ...
. He was awarded the
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ( sv, Sveriges riksbanks pris i ekonomisk vetenskap till Alfred Nobels minne), is an economics award administered ...
in 1998 and India's
Bharat Ratna The Bharat Ratna (; ''Jewel of India'') is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seven ...

Bharat Ratna
in 1999 for his work in welfare economics. The German Publishers and Booksellers Association awarded him the 2020
Peace Prize of the German Book Trade is an international peace prize awarded annually by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels, an association of German book publishers and book sellers, which runs the Frankfurt Book Fair. The award ceremony is held in the Paulskirche in ...
for his pioneering scholarship addressing issues of global justice and combating social inequality in education and healthcare.


Early life and education

Amartya Sen was born in a Hindu family in
Bengal Bengal (; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region located in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal, p ...

Bengal
, British India.
Rabindranath Tagore Rabindranath Tagore (; born Rabindranath Thakur, 7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941; sobriquet Gurudev, Kobiguru, Biswakobi) was an Indian people, Indian polymath—poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painte ...

Rabindranath Tagore
gave Amartya Sen his name ( bn, অমর্ত্য, ômorto, ). Sen's family was from Wari and
Manikganj{{Short description, city in Manikganj District, {{Tangail Division {{Infobox settlement , settlement_type = City and Paurashava, Municipality , official_name = Manikganj , other_name = , native_name = মা ...
,
Dhaka Dhaka ( or ; bn, ঢাকা, Ḍhākā, ), List of renamed places in Bangladesh, formerly known as Dacca, is the Capital city, capital and the largest city of Bangladesh, as well as the largest city in the Bengal region. It is the eight ...

Dhaka
, both in present-day
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
. His father Ashutosh Sen was Professor of Chemistry at
Dhaka University Dhaka ( or , ) (ঢাকা), formerly known as Dacca, is the capital and the largest city of Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, :bn:বাংলাদেশ, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, ...

Dhaka University
, Development Commissioner in Delhi and then Chairman of the West Bengal Public Service Commission. He moved with his family to
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
in 1945. Sen's mother Amita Sen was the daughter of
Kshiti Mohan Sen
Kshiti Mohan Sen
, the eminent Sanskritist and scholar of ancient and medieval India, who was a close associate of Rabindranath Tagore. K.M. Sen served as the second
Vice Chancellor A chancellor is a leader of a college or university, usually either the executive or ceremonial head of the university or of a university campus within a university system A university system is a set of multiple affiliated universities and coll ...
of
Visva Bharati University Visva-Bharati () is a Public university, central research Central University (India), university and an Institution of National Importance located in Shantiniketan, West Bengal, India. It was founded by Rabindranath Tagore who called it ''Visv ...
from 1953 to 1954. Sen began his school education at St Gregory's School in
Dhaka Dhaka ( or ; bn, ঢাকা, Ḍhākā, ), List of renamed places in Bangladesh, formerly known as Dacca, is the Capital city, capital and the largest city of Bangladesh, as well as the largest city in the Bengal region. It is the eight ...

Dhaka
in 1940. In the fall of 1941, Sen was admitted to Patha Bhavana, Shantiniketan, where he completed his school education. The school had many progressive features, such as distaste for examinations or competitive testing. In addition, the school stressed cultural diversity, and embraced cultural influences from the rest of the world. In 1951, he went to
Presidency College, Calcutta Presidency University, Kolkata, formerly known as Hindu College and Presidency College, is a public state university A state university system in the United States is a group of Public university, public universities supported by an indivi ...
, where he earned a B.A. in Economics with First in the First Class, with a minor in Mathematics, as a graduating student of the
University of Calcutta The University of Calcutta (informally known as Calcutta University; CU) is a collegiate public state university located in Kolkata Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , the official name until 2001) is the capital Capital mos ...

University of Calcutta
. While at Presidency, Sen was diagnosed with oral cancer, and given a 15% chance of living five years. With radiation treatment, he survived, and in 1953 he moved to
Trinity College, Cambridge Trinity College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education ...
, where he earned a second B.A. in Economics in 1955 with a First Class, topping the list as well. At this time, he was elected President of the Cambridge Majlis. While Sen was officially a PhD student at Cambridge (though he had finished his research in 1955–56), he was offered the position of First-Professor and First-Head of the Economics Department of the newly created
Jadavpur University Jadavpur University is a public technological Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art techniques and materials, techniques, sk ...
in
Calcutta Kolkata ( or , ; also known as Calcutta , the official name until 2001) is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger upperca ...

Calcutta
. He is still the youngest chairman to have headed the Department of Economics. He served in that position, starting the new Economics Department, from 1956 to 1958. Meanwhile, Sen was elected to a Prize Fellowship at Trinity College, which gave him four years of freedom to do anything he liked; he made the radical decision to study
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
. Sen explained: "The broadening of my studies into philosophy was important for me not just because some of my main areas of interest in economics relate quite closely to philosophical disciplines (for example,
social choice theory Social choice theory or social choice is a theoretical A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense o ...
makes intense use of
mathematical logic Mathematical logic is the study of formal logic within mathematics. Major subareas include model theory, proof theory, set theory, and recursion theory. Research in mathematical logic commonly addresses the mathematical properties of formal sys ...
and also draws on
moral philosophy Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of min ...
, and so does the study of inequality and deprivation), but also because I found philosophical studies very rewarding on their own." His interest in philosophy, however, dates back to his college days at Presidency, where he read books on philosophy and debated philosophical themes. One of the books he was most interested in was
Kenneth Arrow Kenneth Joseph Arrow (23 August 1921 – 21 February 2017) was an American economist, mathematician, writer, and political theorist {{unreferenced, date=June 2015 A political theorist is someone who engages in constructing or evaluating politica ...
's ''
Social Choice and Individual Values #REDIRECT Social Choice and Individual Values#REDIRECT Social Choice and Individual Values Kenneth Arrow's monograph ''Social Choice and Individual Values'' (1951, 2nd ed., 1963) and a theorem within it created modern social choice theory Soc ...
''. In Cambridge, there were major debates between supporters of
Keynesian economics Keynesian economics ( ; sometimes Keynesianism, named after British economist John Maynard Keynes John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, ( ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946) was an English economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the t ...
, and the neo-classical economists who were skeptical of Keynes. Because of a lack of enthusiasm for social choice theory in both Trinity and Cambridge, Sen chose a different subject for his
PhD A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD, Ph.D., or DPhil; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...
thesis, which was on " The Choice of Techniques" in 1959. The work had been completed earlier, except for advice from his adjunct supervisor in India, Professor A.K. Dasgupta, given to Sen while teaching and revising his work at Jadavpur, under the supervision of the "brilliant but vigorously intolerant"
post-Keynesian Post-Keynesian economics is a Schools of economic thought, school of economic thought with its origins in ''The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, The General Theory'' of John Maynard Keynes, with subsequent development influenced ...
,
Joan Robinson Joan Violet Robinson (''née'' Maurice; 31 October 1903 – 5 August 1983) was a British economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and ...
.
Quentin Skinner Quentin Robert Duthie Skinner (born 1940) is a British intellectual historian Intellectual history (also the history of ideas) is the study of the history of human thought and of intellectuals, people who conceptualize, discuss, write about, an ...
notes that Sen was a member of the secret society
Cambridge Apostles The Cambridge Apostles (also known as '' Conversazione Society'') is an intellectual society at the University of Cambridge founded in 1820 by George Tomlinson (bishop), George Tomlinson, a Cambridge student who went on to become the first Bishop ...
during his time at Cambridge. During 1960–61, Amartya Sen visited the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, aft ...
, on leave from Trinity College.


Research work

Sen's work on 'Choice of Techniques' complemented that of Maurice Dobb. In a developing country, the Dobb-Sen strategy relied on maximising investible surpluses, maintaining constant real wages and using the entire increase in labour productivity, due to technological change, to raise the rate of accumulation. In other words, workers were expected to demand no improvement in their standard of living despite having become more productive. Sen's papers in the late 1960s and early 1970s helped develop the theory of
social choice Social choice theory or social choice is a Theory, theoretical framework for analysis of combining individual opinions, preferences, interests, or welfares to reach a ''collective decision'' or ''social welfare'' in some sense.Amartya Sen (2008) ...
, which first came to prominence in the work by the American economist
Kenneth Arrow Kenneth Joseph Arrow (23 August 1921 – 21 February 2017) was an American economist, mathematician, writer, and political theorist {{unreferenced, date=June 2015 A political theorist is someone who engages in constructing or evaluating politica ...
. Arrow, while working at the
RAND Corporation The RAND Corporation ("research and development") is an American nonprofit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and ope ...
, had most famously shown that when voters have three or more distinct alternatives (options), any ranked order
voting system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct and universal vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote ...
will in at least some situations inevitably conflict with what many assume to be basic democratic norms. Sen's contribution to the literature was to show under what conditions
Arrow's impossibility theorem#REDIRECT Arrow's impossibility theorem#REDIRECT Arrow's impossibility theorem {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
{{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from other capitalisation ...
applied, as well as to extend and enrich the theory of social choice, informed by his interests in
history of economic thought The history of economic thought deals with different thinkers and theories in the subject that became political economy and economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Pr ...
and philosophy. In 1981, Sen published ''Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation'' (1981), a book in which he argued that famine occurs not only from a lack of food, but from inequalities built into mechanisms for distributing food. Sen also argued that the Bengal famine was caused by an urban economic boom that raised
food prices Food prices refer to the average price level for food across countries, regions and on a global scale. Food prices have an impact on producers and consumers of food. Price levels depend on the Food industry, food production process, including f ...
, thereby causing millions of rural workers to starve to death when their wages did not keep up. Sen's interest in famine stemmed from personal experience. As a nine-year-old boy, he witnessed the
Bengal famine of 1943 The Bengal famine of 1943 was a famine A famine is a widespread scarcity of food Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισ ...
, in which three million people perished. This staggering loss of life was unnecessary, Sen later concluded. He presents data that there was an adequate food supply in Bengal at the time, but particular groups of people including rural landless labourers and urban service providers like barbers did not have the means to buy food as its price rose rapidly due to factors that include acquisitions by the
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
,
panic buying Panic buying (alternatively hyphenated as panic-buying; also known as panic purchasing) occurs when consumer A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, orders, or uses purchased goods, products, or services Service may refer to: ...
, hoarding, and
price gouging Price gouging occurs when a seller increases the prices of goods In economics Economics () is the social science that studies how people interact with value; in particular, the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics ...
, all of them connected to the war in the region. In ''Poverty and Famines'', Sen revealed that in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced. In Bengal, for example, food production, while down on the previous year, was higher than in previous non-famine years. Sen points to a number of social and economic factors, such as declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, and poor food-distribution, which led to starvation. His
capabilities approach The capability approach (also referred to as the capabilities approach) is a normative approach to human welfare Welfare (or commonly, social welfare) is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet basic ...
focuses on positive freedom, a person's actual ability to be or do something, rather than on negative freedom approaches, which are common in economics and simply focuses on non-interference. In the Bengal famine, rural laborers' negative freedom to buy food was not affected. However, they still starved because they were not positively free to do anything, they did not have the functioning of nourishment, nor the capability to escape morbidity. In addition to his important work on the causes of famines, Sen's work in the field of development economics has had considerable influence in the formulation of the "
Human Development Report The Human Development Report (HDR) is an annual Human Development Index report published by the Human Development Report Office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The first HDR was launched in 1990 by the Pakistani economist Ma ...
",Pdf version.
/ref> published by the
United Nations Development Programme The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)french: Programme des Nations unies pour le développement, PNUD is a United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace ...
. This annual publication that ranks countries on a variety of economic and social indicators owes much to the contributions by Sen among other social choice theorists in the area of economic measurement of poverty and inequality. Sen's revolutionary contribution to development economics and social indicators is the concept of "
capability A capability is the ability to perform or achieve certain actions or outcomes. As it applies to human capital Human capital is the stock of habits, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or somethin ...
" developed in his article ''Equality of What''.Pdf version.
/ref> He argues that governments should be measured against the concrete capabilities of their citizens. This is because top-down development will always trump
human rights Human rights are moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. ...
as long as the definition of terms remains in doubt (is a "right" something that must be provided or something that simply cannot be taken away?). For instance, in the United States citizens have a right to vote. To Sen, this concept is fairly empty. In order for citizens to have a capacity to vote, they first must have "functionings". These "functionings" can range from the very broad, such as the availability of education, to the very specific, such as transportation to the . Only when such barriers are removed can the citizen truly be said to act out of personal choice. It is up to the individual society to make the list of minimum capabilities guaranteed by that society. For an example of the "capabilities approach" in practice, see
Martha Nussbaum Martha Craven Nussbaum (; born May 6, 1947) is an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics ...

Martha Nussbaum
's ''Women and Human Development''. He wrote a controversial article in ''
The New York Review of Books ''The New York Review of Books'' (or ''NYREV'' or ''NYRB'') is a semi-monthly magazine with articles on literature, culture, economics, science and current affairs. Published in New York City, it is inspired by the idea that the discussion of i ...
'' entitled "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing" (see
Missing women of AsiaThe term "missing women" indicates a shortfall in the number of women relative to the expected number of women in a region or country. It is most often measured through male-to-female sex ratio The sex ratio is the ratio In mathematics, a ratio ...
), analyzing the mortality impact of unequal rights between the genders in the developing world, particularly Asia. Other studies, including one by
Emily Oster Emily Fair Oster (born February 14, 1980) is an American economist and bestselling author. After receiving a B.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University, Harvard in 2002 and 2006 respectively, Oster taught at the University of Chicago Booth School of B ...
, had argued that this is an overestimation, though Oster has since then recanted her conclusions. In 1999, Sen further advanced and redefined the capability approach in his book '' Development as Freedom''. Sen argues that development should be viewed as an effort to advance the real freedoms that individuals enjoy, rather than simply focusing on metrics such as GDP or income-per-capita. Sen was inspired by violent acts he had witnessed as a child leading up to the Partition of India in 1947. On one morning, a Muslim daily labourer named Kader Mia stumbled through the rear gate of Sen's family home, bleeding from a knife wound in his back. Because of his extreme poverty, he had come to Sen's primarily Hindu neighbourhood searching for work; his choices were the starvation of his family or the risk of death in coming to the neighbourhood. The price of Kader Mia's economic unfreedom was his death. Kader Mia need not have come to a hostile area in search of income in those troubled times if his family could have managed without it. This experience led Sen to begin thinking about economic unfreedom from a young age. In ''Development as Freedom'', Sen outlines five specific types of freedoms: political freedoms, economic facilities, social opportunities, transparency guarantees, and protective security. Political freedoms refer to the ability of the people to have a voice in government and to be able to scrutinize the authorities. Economic facilities concern both the resources within the market and the market mechanism itself. Any focus on income and wealth in the country would serve to increase the economic facilities for the people. Social opportunities deal with the establishments that provide benefits like healthcare or education for the populace, allowing individuals to live better lives. Transparency guarantees allow individuals to interact with some degree of trust and knowledge of the interaction. Protective security is the system of social safety nets that prevent a group affected by poverty being subjected to terrible misery. Before Sen's work, these had been viewed as only the ends of development; luxuries afforded to countries that focus on increasing income. However, Sen argues that the increase in real freedoms should be both the ends and the means of development. He elaborates upon this by illustrating the closely interconnected natures of the five main freedoms as he believes that expansion of one of those freedoms can lead to expansion in another one as well. In this regard he discusses the correlation between social opportunities of education and health and how both of these complement economic and political freedoms as a healthy and well-educated person is better suited to make informed economic decisions and be involved in fruitful political demonstrations etc. A comparison is also drawn between China and India to illustrate this interdependence of freedoms. Both countries were working towards developing their economies, China since 1979 and India since 1991. Welfare economics seeks to evaluate economic policies in terms of their effects on the well-being of the community. Sen, who devoted his career to such issues, was called the "conscience of his profession". His influential monograph ''Collective Choice and Social Welfare'' (1970), which addressed problems related to individual rights (including formulation of the
liberal paradox The liberal paradox, also Sen paradox or Sen's paradox, is a logical paradox A paradox, also known as an antinomy, is a logically self-contradictory statement or a statement that runs contrary to one's expectation. It is a statement that, despit ...
), justice and equity, majority rule, and the availability of information about individual conditions, inspired researchers to turn their attention to issues of basic welfare. Sen devised methods of measuring poverty that yielded useful information for improving economic conditions for the poor. For instance, his theoretical work on inequality provided an explanation for why there are fewer women than men in India and in China despite the fact that in the West and in poor but medically unbiased countries, women have lower
mortality rate Mortality rate, or death rate, is a measure of the number of deaths (in general, or due to a specific cause) in a particular Statistical population, population, scaled to the size of that population, per unit of time. Mortality rate is typically e ...
s at all ages, live longer, and make a slight majority of the population. Sen claimed that this skewed ratio results from the better health treatment and childhood opportunities afforded boys in those countries, as well as
sex-selective abortion Sex-selective abortion is the practice of terminating a pregnancy based upon the predicted sex of the infant. The selective abortion of female fetuses is most common where male children are valued over female children, especially in parts of Eas ...
s. Governments and international organisations handling food crises were influenced by Sen's work. His views encouraged policy makers to pay attention not only to alleviating immediate suffering but also to finding ways to replace the lost income of the poor—for example through public works—and to maintain stable prices for food. A vigorous defender of political freedom, Sen believed that famines do not occur in functioning democracies because their leaders must be more responsive to the demands of the citizens. In order for economic growth to be achieved, he argued, social reforms—such as improvements in education and public health—must precede economic reform. In 2009, Sen published a book called '' The Idea of Justice''. Based on his previous work in welfare economics and social choice theory, but also on his philosophical thoughts, Sen presented his own theory of justice that he meant to be an alternative to the influential modern theories of justice of
John Rawls John Bordley Rawls (; February 21, 1921 – November 24, 2002) was an American moral A moral (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ori ...
or
John Harsanyi John Charles Harsanyi ( hu, Harsányi János Károly; May 29, 1920 – August 9, 2000) was a Hungarian- American Nobel Prize laureate economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. Th ...
. In opposition to Rawls but also earlier justice theoreticians
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Immanuel Kant
,
Jean-Jacques Rousseau Jean-Jacques Rousseau (, , ; 28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Republic of Geneva, Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer. His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment throughout Europe, as w ...

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
or
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
, and inspired by the philosophical works of
Adam Smith Adam Smith ( 1723 – 17 July 1790) was a Scottish economist, philosopher as well as a moral philosopher Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and ...

Adam Smith
and
Mary Wollstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft (, ; 27 April 1759 – 10 September 1797) was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women's rights. Until the late 20th century, Wollstonecraft's life, which encompassed several unconventional personal rela ...

Mary Wollstonecraft
, Sen developed a theory that is both comparative and realisations-oriented (instead of being transcendental and institutional). However, he still regards institutions and processes as being equally important. As an alternative to Rawls's
veil of ignorance The original position (OP), often referred to as the veil of ignorance, is a thought experiment used for reasoning about the principles that should structure a society based on solidarity. The phrases ''original position'' and ''veil of ignorance ...
, Sen chose the
thought experiment A thought experiment is a hypothetical situation in which a hypothesis A hypothesis (plural hypotheses) is a proposed explanation for a phenomenon. For a hypothesis to be a scientific hypothesis, the scientific method requires that one can t ...
of an impartial spectator as the basis of his theory of justice. He also stressed the importance of public discussion (understanding democracy in the sense of
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most i ...
) and a focus on people's capabilities (an
approach Approach may refer to: Aviation *Final approach (aeronautics) *Instrument approach *Visual approach Music * Approach (album), ''Approach'' (album), by Von Hertzen Brothers * ''The Approach'', an album by I:Scintilla Other uses *Lotus Approach, a ...
that he had co-developed), including the notion of universal human rights, in evaluating various states with regard to justice.


Career

Sen began his career both as a teacher and a research scholar in the Department of Economics,
Jadavpur University Jadavpur University is a public technological Technology ("science of craft", from Ancient Greek, Greek , ''techne'', "art, skill, cunning of hand"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the sum of Art techniques and materials, techniques, sk ...
as a Professor of Economics in 1956. He spent two years in that position. From 1957 to 1963, Sen served as a
Fellow A fellow is a broad concept whose exact meaning depends on context. In learned Learning is the process of acquiring new understanding, knowledge, behaviors, skills, value (personal and cultural), values, attitudes, and preferences. The abil ...
of
Trinity College, Cambridge Trinity College is a constituent college A collegiate university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, higher (or Tertiary education, tertiary) education ...
. Between 1960 and 1961, Sen was a visiting Professor at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, aft ...
in the United States, where he got to know
Paul Samuelson Paul may refer to: *Paul (given name) Paul () is a common masculine given name in countries and ethnicities with a Christian heritage (Eastern Orthodoxy The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List ...

Paul Samuelson
,
Robert Solow Robert Merton Solow, Order of Prince Henry, GCIH (; born August 23, 1924) is an American economist whose work on the theory of economic growth culminated in the exogenous growth model named after him. He is currently Emeritus List of Institute Prof ...
,
Franco Modigliani Franco Modigliani (18 June 1918 – 25 September 2003) was an Italian-American economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theo ...

Franco Modigliani
, and
Norbert Wiener Norbert Wiener (November 26, 1894 – March 18, 1964) was an American mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as ...

Norbert Wiener
. He was also a visiting Professor at the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...

University of California, Berkeley
(1964-1965) and
Cornell University Cornell University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly two ...
(1978-1984). He taught as Professor of Economics between 1963 and 1971 at the
Delhi School of Economics Delhi School of Economics (DSE), popularly referred to as D School, is a graduate school File:CCMDonation49.JPG, Student receives degree from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City, 2013 A graduate school (so ...
(where he completed his ''magnum opus'' Collective Choice and Social Welfare in 1969). During this time Sen was also a frequent visitor to various other premiere Indian economic schools and centres of excellence like
Jawaharlal Nehru University Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) is a Public university, public Central University (India), central major research university located in New Delhi, India. It was established in 1969 and named after Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minist ...
,
Indian Statistical Institute Indian Statistical Institute (ISI) is a higher education and Research Research is "creative and systematic work undertaken to increase the stock of knowledge". It involves the collection, organization and analysis of information to in ...
,
Centre for Development Studies The Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram Thiruvananthapuram (; ), also known by its List of renamed Indian cities and states, former name Trivandrum , is the Capital city, capital of the Indian state of Kerala. It is th ...
, Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics and Centre for Studies in Social Sciences. He was a companion of distinguished economists like
Manmohan Singh Manmohan Singh (; born 26 September 1932) is an Indian economist, academic, and politician who served as the 13th Prime Minister of India The prime minister of India (), officially the prime minister of the Republic of India is the ...

Manmohan Singh
(Ex-Prime Minister of India and a veteran economist responsible for liberalizing the Indian economy), K. N. Raj (Advisor to various Prime Ministers and a veteran economist who was the founder of
Centre for Development Studies The Centre for Development Studies (CDS), Thiruvananthapuram Thiruvananthapuram (; ), also known by its List of renamed Indian cities and states, former name Trivandrum , is the Capital city, capital of the Indian state of Kerala. It is th ...
, Trivandrum, which is one of India's premier think tanks and schools) and
Jagdish Bhagwati Jagdish Natwarlal Bhagwati (born July 26, 1934) is an India-born naturalized Naturalization (or naturalisation) is the legal act or process by which a non-citizen of a country may acquire citizenship Citizenship is the status of a person ...

Jagdish Bhagwati
(who is known to be one of the greatest Indian economists in the field of International Trade and currently teaches at
Columbia University Columbia University (also known as Columbia, and officially as Columbia University in the City of New York) is a Private university, private Ivy League research university in New York City. Established in 1754 as King's College on the grounds of ...

Columbia University
). This is a period considered to be a Golden Period in the history of DSE. In 1971, he joined the
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
as a Professor of Economics where he taught until 1977. From 1977 to 1988, he taught at the
University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate university, collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the List of oldest universit ...
, where he was first a Professor of Economics and Fellow of
Nuffield College Nuffield College () is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lord is my light , established = , endowment = £6.1 billion (including colleges) (as of 31 July 2019) , budget = £2.1 ...

Nuffield College
, and then the
Drummond Professor of Political Economy The Drummond Professorship of Political Economy at All Souls College All Souls College (official name: College of the Souls of All the Faithful Departed) is a constituent college of the University of Oxford , mottoeng = Psalm 27, The Lo ...
and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford from 1980. In 1987, Sen joined Harvard University, Harvard as the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor of Economics. In 1998 he was appointed as Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, becoming the first Asian head of an Oxbridge college. In January 2004, Sen returned to Harvard. He also established the Eva Colorni Trust at the former London Guildhall University in the name of his deceased wife. In May 2007, he was appointed as chairman of Nalanda Mentor Group to examine the framework of international cooperation, and proposed structure of partnership, which would govern the establishment of Nalanda International University Project as an international centre of education seeking to revive the ancient center of higher learning which was present in India from the 5th century to 1197. He chaired the Social Sciences jury for the Infosys Prize from 2009 to 2011, and the Humanities jury from 2012 to 2018. On 19 July 2012, Sen was named the first chancellor of the proposed Nalanda University (NU). Sen was criticized as the project suffered due to inordinate delays, mismanagement and lack of presence of faculty on ground. Finally teaching began in August 2014. On 20 February 2015, Sen withdrew his candidature for a second term.


Memberships and associations

He has served as president of the Econometric Society (1984), the International Economic Association (1986–1989), th
Indian Economic Association
(1989) and the American Economic Association (1994). He has also served as President of the Development Studies Association and the Human Development and Capability Association. He serves as the honorary director of the Academic Advisory Committee of the Center for Human and Economic Development Studies at Peking University in China. Sen has been called "the Conscience of the profession" and "the Mother Teresa of Economics" for his work on famine, human development theory,
welfare economics Welfare economics is a branch of economics that uses microeconomics, microeconomic techniques to evaluate well-being (welfare) at the aggregate (economy-wide) level. Attempting to apply the principles of welfare economics gives rise to the fiel ...
, the underlying mechanisms of poverty, gender inequality, and Contributions to liberal theory, political liberalism. However, he denies the comparison to Mother Teresa, saying that he has never tried to follow a lifestyle of dedicated self-sacrifice. Amartya Sen also added his voice to the campaign against the anti-gay Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code. Sen has served as Honorary Chairman of Oxfam, the UK based international development charity, and is now its Honorary Advisor. Sen is also a member of the Berggruen Institute's 21st Century Council. Sen is an Honorary Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge. He is also one of the 25 leading figures on the Information and Democracy Commission launched by Reporters Without Borders.


Media and culture

A 56-minute documentary named ''Amartya Sen: A Life Re-examined'' directed by Suman Ghosh details his life and work. A documentary about Amartya Sen, titled The Argumentative Indian, was released in 2017. A 2001 portrait of Sen by Annabel Cullen is in Trinity College's collection. A 2003 portrait of Sen hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, London, National Portrait Gallery in London. In 2011, he was present at the ''Rabindra Utsab'' ceremony at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC),
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
. He unveiled the cover of Sruti Gitobitan, a Rabindrasangeet album comprising all the 2222 Tagore songs, brought out by Rezwana Chowdhury Bannya, principal of Shurer Dhara School of Music. Max Roser said that it was the work of Sen that made him create Our World in Data.


Political views

Sen was critical of Indian politician Narendra Modi when he was announced as their prime ministerial candidate by the BJP. In April 2014, he said that Modi would not make a good Prime Minister. He conceded later in December 2014 that Modi did give people a sense of faith that things can happen. In February 2015, Sen opted out of seeking a second term for the chancellor post of Nalanda University, stating that the Government of India was not keen on him continuing in the post. In August 2019, during the clampdown and curfew in Kashmir for more than two weeks after the Indian revocation of Jammu and Kashmir's special status, Sen criticized the government and said "As an Indian, I am not proud of the fact that India, after having done so much to achieve a democratic norm in the world – where India was the first non-Western country to go for democracy – that we lose that reputation on the grounds of action that have been taken". He regarded the detention of Kashmiri political leaders as "a classical colonial excuse" to prevent Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, backlash against the Indian government's decision and called for a democratic solution that would involve Kashmiri people. Sen spent much of his later life as a political writer and activist. He was outspoken about Narendra Modi’s leadership in India. In an interview with the New York Times, he claimed that Modi’s fearmongering among the Indian people was anti-democratic. “The big thing that we know from John Stuart Mill is that democracy is government by discussion, and, if you make discussion fearful, you are not going to get a democracy, no matter how you count the votes”. He disagreed with Modi’s ideology of Hindu nationalism, and advocated for a more integrated and diverse ideology that reflects the heterogeneity of India. Sen also wrote an article for the New York Times documenting the reasons why India trails behind China in economic development. He advocates for healthcare reform, because low-income people in India have to deal with exploitative and inadequate private healthcare. He recommends India implement the same education policies that Japan did in the late 19th century. However, he realizes that there is a tradeoff between democracy and progress in Asia because democracy is a near reality in India and not in China. In an article in The Atlantic, Sen recommended for India a middle path between the “hard-knocks” development policy that creates wealth at the expense of civil liberties, and radical progressivism that only seeks to protect civil liberties at the expense of development. Rather than create an entirely new theory for ethical development in Asia, Sen sought to reform the current development model.


Personal life and beliefs

Sen has been married three times. His first wife was Nabaneeta Dev Sen, an Indian writer and scholar, with whom he had two daughters: Antara Dev Sen, Antara, a journalist and publisher, and Nandana Sen, Nandana, a Bollywood actress. Their marriage broke up shortly after they moved to London in 1971. In 1978 Sen married Eva Colorni, an Italian economist, daughter of Eugenio Colorni and Ursula Hirschmann and niece of Albert O. Hirschman. The couple had two children, a daughter Indrani, who is a journalist in New York, and a son Kabir, a hip hop artist, MC, and music teacher at Shady Hill School. Eva died of cancer in 1985. In 1991, Sen married Emma Georgina Rothschild, who serves as the Jeremy and Jane Knowles Professor of History at Harvard University. The Sens have a house in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is the base from which they teach during the academic year. They also have a home in Cambridge, England, where Sen is a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and Rothschild is a Fellow of Magdalene College, Cambridge, Magdalene College. He usually spends his winter holidays at his home in Shantiniketan in
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali Bengali or Bengalee, or Bengalese may refer to: *something of, from, or related to Bengal, a large region in South Asia * Bengalis, an ethnic and linguistic group of the region * Bengali language, the language they sp ...

West Bengal
, India, where he used to go on long bike rides until recently. Asked how he relaxes, he replies: "I read a lot and like arguing with people." Sen is an atheist and holds that this can be associated with one of the Atheism in Hinduism, atheist schools in Hinduism, the Charvaka, Lokayata. In an interview for the magazine ''California'', which is published by the
University of California, Berkeley The University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley, Berkeley, Cal, or California) is a public In public relations Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization ...

University of California, Berkeley
, he noted:


Awards and honours

Sen has received over 90 honorary degrees from universities around the world. In 2019,
London School of Economics , mottoeng = To understand the causes of things , established = 1895 , type = Public In public relations and communication science, publics are groups of individual people, and the public (a.k.a. the general public) is the totality of s ...
announced the creation of the Amartya Sen Chair in Inequality Studies. * Adam Smith Prize, 1954 * Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1981 * Honorary fellowship by the Institute of Social Studies, 1984 *
Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, officially the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel ( sv, Sveriges riksbanks pris i ekonomisk vetenskap till Alfred Nobels minne), is an economics award administered ...
, 1998 *
Bharat Ratna The Bharat Ratna (; ''Jewel of India'') is the highest civilian award of the Republic of India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seven ...

Bharat Ratna
, the highest civilian award in India, 1999 * Honorary citizenship of
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
, 1999 * Order of Companion of Honour, UK, 2000 * Leontief Prize, 2000 * Eisenhower Fellowships#The Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service, Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service, 2000 * 351st Commencement Speaker of
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
, 2001 * International Humanist Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union, 2002 * Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, 2004 * Life Time Achievement award by Bangkok-based United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) * National Humanities Medal, 2011 * Order of the Aztec Eagle, 2012 * Chevalier of the French Legion of Honour, 2013 * 25 Greatest Global Living Legends in India by NDTV, 2013 * Top 100 thinkers who have defined our century by ''The New Republic'', 2014 * Charleston-EFG John Maynard Keynes Prize, 2015 * Albert O. Hirschman Prize, Social Science Research Council, 2016 * Johan Skytte Prize in Political Science, 2017 * Bodley Medal, 2019 * Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels, 2020


Bibliography


Books

* * * * * ::Reprinted as: ::Reviewed in the ''Social Scientist'': * ::Reprinted as: * * ::Reprinted as: Reviewed in ''The Economic Journal''. * * * * ::Also printed as:
Extract 1.
(Via Ian Stoner, lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota


Extract 2.
* * * * * ::Review in ''Asia Times''. * *
Preview.
*
Chapter-preview links – 1.

Chapter-preview links – 2.
* ::Review ''The Guardian.'' ::Review ''The Washington Post''. * *
Extract: "Imperial illusions: India, Britain, and the wrong lessons."
* *
Preview.
* * * * *


Chapters in books

* ::Reprinted as:
Pdf version.
* * * ::Reprinted in * See also: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. * See also: The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics.


Journal articles

* * * * * * * *


Lecture transcripts

* Sen, Amartya (25 May 1997),
Human Rights and Asian Values
', Sixteenth Annual Morgenthau Memorial Lecture on Ethics and Foreign Policy * * ::News coverage of the ''Romanes Lecture#1990s, 1998 Romanes Lecture'' in the ''Oxford University Gazette.''


Papers

*


Selected works in Persian

A list of Persian translations of Amartya Sen's work is availabl
here


See also

* Abhijit Banerjee * Equality of autonomy, a concept of equality posed by Sen * Feminist economics * Human Development Index * List of feminist economists * Kerala model, an expression or concept invented and introduced by Sen * Instrumental and value rationality, describing some of his differences with John Rawls, Robert Nozick, and James Gouinlock.


References


Further reading

* *
Amartya Sen Biographical


External links


Amartya Sen
at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
*
Amartya Sen
on Google Scholar
Amartya Sen on Cultural Relativism and "the good life"
on Berggruen Institute's YouTube channel
Profile
an

at Research Papers in Economics/RePEc
Fearing Food edited by Julian Morris. Chapter on Sen
* * {{DEFAULTSORT:Sen, Amartya Amartya Sen, 1933 births University of Calcutta alumni Alumni of Trinity College, Cambridge Bengali Nobel laureates Bengali people Bengali Hindus Fellows of the Econometric Society Fellows of Darwin College, Cambridge Fellows of Nuffield College, Oxford Fellows of All Souls College, Oxford Fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellows of the British Academy Feminist economists Harvard University faculty Harvard Law School faculty Jadavpur University faculty University of Delhi faculty Indian academics Indian atheists 20th-century Indian economists Indian feminists Indian political philosophers Indian Nobel laureates People in international development Living people Male feminists Masters of Trinity College, Cambridge Honorary Members of the Order of the Companions of Honour Academics of the London School of Economics National Humanities Medal recipients Nobel laureates in Economics People associated with Santiniketan Presidents of the Econometric Society Asian social liberals Drummond Professors of Political Economy People from Manikganj District Recipients of the Bharat Ratna Presidents of the American Economic Association Honorary Fellows of the London School of Economics Honorary Fellows of Bangla Academy 21st-century Indian economists Scholars from West Bengal Scientists from West Bengal Distinguished Fellows of the American Economic Association International Center for Research on Women Institute for New Economic Thinking People from New Alipore Honorary Degree Recipients of the University of London