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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Sen-Bhagwati debate gets acerbic
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Sen-Bhagwati debate gets acerbic

In latest broadside, Sen says Bhagwati and Panagariya have “misdescribed” his past work

The debate between two of the finest Indian economists—Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati—reflects the deeper question facing the country’s political leaders. Photo: Mint (Mint)Premium
The debate between two of the finest Indian economists—Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati—reflects the deeper question facing the country’s political leaders. Photo: Mint
(Mint)

The Growth versus Development debate between the eminent economists Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati took a new turn with Sen for the first time publicly responding to Bhagwati’s attacks. Two books, one by Bhagwati and his colleague and economist at the Columbia University Arvind Panagariya titled “Why Growth Matters" and the other by Sen and economist Jean Drèze “An Uncertain Glory" have set the agenda for a debate between what policymakers should focus on first: Growth or Redistribution. Replying to a review of the book by Sen and Dreze published in the Economist magazine, Bhagwati and Panagariya wrote that Sen has belatedly learned to offer lip service to growth without advocating for any pro-growth policies. “Growth has made redistribution feasible, not the other way round," they added.

Taking exception to the observations, Sen in a surprising letter, replied to the Economist, blaming Bhagwati and Panagariya for having “misdescribed" his past work as well as the latest book. “I have resisted responding to Mr Bhagwati’s persistent, and unilateral, attacks in the past, but this outrageous distortion needs correction," he added. Sen said economic growth is very important as a means for bettering people’s lives, but it has to be combined with improving the social indicators such as literacy and health.

Here are the links to the debate:

Review of “An Uncertain Glory" in The Economist:

https://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21580124-why-worlds-biggest-democracy-still-fails-too-many-its-people-beyond-bootstraps

Jagdish Bhagwati writes:

https://www.economist.com/news/letters/21581693-india-gay-marriage-protesting-iran-marc-rich-political-pi

Amartya Sen responds:

https://www.economist.com/news/letters/21581963-amartya-sen-defence-spending-britain-egypt-immigration-france-gdp-sailing

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Published: 20 Jul 2013, 10:35 AM IST
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