Amartya Sen is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998. His latest book is An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions, cowritten with Jean Drèze. (August 2015)

IN THE REVIEW

India’s Women: The Mixed Truth

Women shielding themselves from a dust storm, Rajasthan, India, 1983; photograph by Steve McCurry from his book Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs, which includes fourteen of his photo stories from India, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and other countries, along with essays about his work and ephemera from his personal archive. It has just been published by Phaidon.
Public anger at gender inequality in India must be seen as an important—and long-overdue—social development, and it can certainly help in remedying the persistent inequalities from which Indian women suffer. It is, however, very important to understand the nature of female disadvantage in India, which can take many different forms. If the lack of safety of women is one aspect of it, the old phenomenon of “boy preference” in family decisions is surely another. There is, moreover, strong evidence that the economic and social options open to women are significantly fewer than those available to men.

Quality of Life: India vs. China

Girls in a classroom in the Indian model village of Ralegan Siddhi, northeast of Pune, Maharashtra, 2006
The rate of economic growth in India is steadily rising, and there is much speculation about whether and when India may catch up with and surpass China’s growth rate. Despite the evident excitement that this subject seems to cause in India and abroad, it is surely rather silly to be obsessed about India’s overtaking China in the rate of growth of GNP, while not comparing India with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy. Economic growth can, of course, be enormously helpful in advancing living standards and in battling poverty. But there is little cause for taking the growth of GNP to be an end in itself, rather than seeing it as an important means for achieving things we value.

Capitalism Beyond the Crisis

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the ‘New World, New Capitalism’ symposium, Paris, January 8, 2009. Amartya Sen also attended the symposium.
2008 was a year of crises. First, we had a food crisis, particularly threatening to poor consumers, especially in Africa. Along with that came a record increase in oil prices, threatening all oil-importing countries. Finally, rather suddenly in the fall, came the global economic downturn, and it is now gathering …