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While I am interested both in economics and in philosophy, the union of my interests in two fields far

exceeds their intersection Amartya Sen

Well known Indian Economist, Philosopher, the former chancellor of Nalanda University, Amartya Sen
was born in a University campus (Santiniketan, in the campus of Rabindranath Tagores Visva-Bharati,
both school and college) and seem to have lived all his life in one campus or another. Sen's family had
their roots at Wari and Manikganj, Dhaka, presently both in Bangladesh.
Amartya Sens father Ashutosh Sen worked as a professor of chemistry at Dhaka University who later
moved with his family to West Bengal of India in 1945 and worked at various government institutions,
including the Union Public Service Commission and the West Bengal Public Service Commission (of
which he was the chairman). Sen's mother was the daughter of Kshiti Mohan Sen, a well-known scholar
of ancient and medieval India. Kshiti Sen being close associate of Rabindranath Tagore, the name
Amartya Sen was suggested by Tagore which means Immortal in Bengali.

During his three childhood years (between the ages of 3 and 6) Sen was in Mandalay in Burma, where
his father was a visiting professor. But much of his childhood was, in fact, spent in Dhaka, and he
began his formal education there, at St. Gregory's School.
However, he soon moved to Santiniketan, and it was mainly in Tagore's school that his educational
attitudes were formed. That was a co-educational school, with many progressive features. The
emphasis was on fostering curiosity rather than competitive excellence, and any kind of interest in
examination performance and grades was severely discouraged.
The curriculum of the school did not neglect India's cultural, analytical and scientific heritage, but was
very involved also with the rest of the world, says Sen, indeed, it was astonishingly open to influences
from all over the world, including the West, but also other non-Western cultures, such as East and
South-East Asia (including China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea), West Asia, and Africa.
Sen mentioned that he loved the fact, quoted by Tagore, that Indias cultural diversity was much
emphasized in interpreting Indian civilization. By pointing to the extensive heterogeneity in India's
cultural background and richly diverse history, Tagore argued that the "idea of India" itself militated
against a culturally separatist view.
Tagore and his school constantly resisted the narrowly communal identities of Hindus or Muslims or
others and Sen supposed- Tagore was fortunate to die in 1941 - just before the communal killings
fomented by sectarian politics that engulfed India through much of the 1940s. People's identities as
Indians, as Asians, or as members of the human race, seemed to give way - quite suddenly - to
sectarian identification with Hindu, Muslim, or Sikh communities. The broadly Indian individual of
January was rapidly and unquestioningly transformed into the narrowly Hindu or finely Muslim of March.
The carnage that followed had much to do with unreasoned herd behaviour by which people, as it were,
"discovered" their new divisive and belligerent identities, and failed to take note of the diversity that
makes Indian culture so powerfully mixed. Sen says, he had to observe, as a young child, some of that
mindless violence. As narrated by Sen, One afternoon in Dhaka, a man came through the gate
screaming pitifully and bleeding profusely. The wounded person, who had been knifed on the back, was
a Muslim daily labourer, called Kader Mia. He had come for some work in a neighbouring house - for a
tiny reward - and had been knifed on the street by some communal thugs in our largely Hindu area. As

he was being taken to the hospital by my father, he went on saying that his wife had told him not to go
into a hostile area during the communal riots. But he had to go out in search of work and earning
because his family had nothing to eat. The penalty of that economic unfreedom turned out to be death,
which occurred later on in the hospital. The experience was devastating for me, and suddenly made me
aware of the dangers of narrowly defined identities, and also of the divisiveness that can lie buried in
communitarian politics. It also alerted me to the remarkable fact that economic unfreedom, in the form
of extreme poverty, can make a person a helpless prey in the violation of other kinds of freedom: 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.

Sen quotes, My planned field of study varied a good deal in my younger years and between the ages
of three and seventeen, I seriously flirted, in turn, with Sanskrit, mathematics, and physics, before
settling for the eccentric charms of economics. But the idea that he should be a teacher and a
researcher of some sort did not vary over the years. He also says that he was used to thinking of the
word "academic" as meaning "sound," rather than the more old-fashioned dictionary meaning:
"unpractical," "theoretical," or "conjectural."

From 1951 Sen went to Presidency College, Kolkata, where he earned a B.A. in Economics with First
Class, with a minor in Mathematics, as a graduating student of the University of Calcutta. In 1953 he
moved to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he earned a second B.A. in Pure Economics in 1955 with a
First Class, topping the list as well. He was elected President of the Cambridge Majlis. While Sen was
officially a Ph.D. student at Cambridge (though he had finished his research in 1955-6), he was offered
the position of Professor and Head of the Economics Department of the newly created Jadavpur
University in Calcutta, and he became the youngest chairman to head the Department of Economics.
He served in that position, starting the new Economics Department, during 1956 to 1958. Since he was
only twenty-three years of age, this created dissatisfaction amongst the people there. After teaching at
the University for a couple of years, he returned to Cambridge and took up a course in philosophy from
the Trinity College.

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. 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 makes intense use of mathematical logic and also draws on moral philosophy, 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.

In Cambridge, there were major debates between supporters of Keynesian economics on the one
hand, and the "neo-classical" economists sceptical of Keynes, on the other. However, because of a lack
of enthusiasm for social choice theory in both Trinity and Cambridge, Sen had to choose a different

subject for his Ph.D. thesis, which was on The Choice of Techniques. Sen was a member of the secret
society Cambridge Apostles during his time at Cambridge.
In 1963 he came back to India, and joined the University of Delhi and the Delhi School of Economics as
a professor of Economics. In 1970, he published his first book: Collective Choice and Social Welfare.
He left Delhi in the year 1971 due to his wife's deteriorating and moved to London, U.K. The marriage
however eventually did not work out. In 1972, he joined the London School of Economics as a
professor till 1977 after which he joined the University of Oxford. He was the first professor of
economics at Nuffield College, Oxford. He worked there till 1986 and joined Harvard.

Amartya Sen lays claim to a history of writing some of the finest research papers that have been
published. In 1981 he published his paper; 'Poverty and Famines: An Essay in Entitlement and
Deprivation'. He has also written a "Human Development Report", published in the United Nations
Development program. In 1990, he wrote one his most controversial articles in the New York Review of
Books under the title "More Than 100 Million Women Are Missing". He has also authored about twenty
books and they have been translated into many prominent languages too.

Through his research in economics and related fields he has set new standards governments and
international organizations. Today Sen has managed to influence authorities to not just find out ways of
alleviating suffering, but to find ways through which there can be a replacement for the lost income of
the poor. Another important contribution of Sen was seen in the area of economy development where
he introduced the concept of 'capability' through his research article "Equality of What".
In 1933, born in Dhaka.
In 1953, finished a B.A. in economics from the Presidency College, Kolkata
In 1955, finished a B. A. in economics from the Trinity College, Cambridge
In 1959, finished his H.A. and PhD from the Trinity College, Cambridge
Got his first job, in 1956, as a Professor of Economics at the Jadavpur University, Kolkata
In 1963, joined the University of Delhi as a Professor in Economics
In 1970, his first book titled Collective Choice and Social Welfare, which is considered as one
of his most influential monographs that addressed the issues of basic welfare, justice,
equality and individual rights.
In 1972, Sen joined the London School of Economics as a Professor of Economics

Published in the year 1973, his book On Economic Inequality, was a study of the theory of
welfare economics in relation to the study of economic inequality.
In 1977, he joined the Oxford University as a Professor of Economics
His 1982 essay, Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlements and Deprivation, highlighted
the cause of lack of food supply, malnutrition and an analysis of famines.
In 1984, his work development economies, Resources, Values, and Development was
published. The publication focussed on the investment design, shadow rating, employment
policy, and welfare economics.
In 1986, joined Harvard as a Professor of Economics.
His 1987 publication On Ethics and Economics, was a critical piece of writing that argued that
welfare economics and modern ethical studies can benefit from each other.
In 1990, he authored a controversial essay for the The New York Review of Books, titled More
Than 100 Million Women Are Missing. The essay throws light on the gender imbalance and
the reasons for it.
In 1992, his book Inequality Re-examined was published by the Harvard University Press. The
book examined the notion of inequality and focussed mainly on the capability approach.
In 1998, his Nobel Prize Lecture publication titled The Possibility of Social Choice, in which he
declared that welfare economics was a core theme in social change theory.
In 1999, he came out with the publication titled Development as Freedom, in the book he
focussed on the concept of international development and developmental economics.
In 2002, he came out with his book titled Rationality and Freedom, which is divided into two
volumes on rationality, freedom, and justice. He brings a clear, clarified insight into each of
these concepts.
In 2005, his popular book, The Argumentative Indian was published. The book is a collection
of essays on history and identity of India and the need to understand contemporary India
and its argumentative tradition.
In 2009, his book The Idea of Justice was published by Allen Lane and Harvard University
Press. The book was a highlight on economic reasoning and a critique of John Rawls book,
A Theory of Justice.
In his 2011 publication, Peace and Democratic Society, he explores the relationship between
violence, peace and democracy. He delves into the concept of organised violence and war,
genocide and terrorism.

He is currently working as a Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and

also the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor.

Awards and Accolades

Adam Smith Prize by Cambridge University (1954)

Stevenson Prize by Cambridge University (1956)
Mahalanobis Prize (1976)
Rank E. Seidman Distinguished Award in Political Economy (1986)
Senator Giovanni Agnelli International Prize in Ethics (1990)
Alan Shawn Feinstein World Hunger' Award (1990)
Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award (1993)
Indira Gandhi Gold Medal Award of the Asiatic Society (1994)
Edinburgh Medal (1997)
9th Catalonia International Prize (1997)
Nobel Prize in Economics (1998)
Bharat Ratna Award (1999)
Honorary citizenship from the Bangladesh Government (1999)
Leontief Prize from the Global Development and Environment Institute (2000)
Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service USA (2000)
Companion of Honour (2000)
The International Humanist Award from the International Humanist and Ethical Union (2002)
The Indian Chamber of Commerce conferred up on him the Lifetime Achievement Award
Lifetime Achievement Award from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for
Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)

Honorary degree, University of Pavia, 2005

National Humanities Medal, 2011

Order of the Aztec Eagle, 2012

Commander 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

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