India: Large and Small?

A nice lecture by Amartya Sen. Sort of an abridged version of his book- The Argumentative Indian. Just discovered it on planning commission website.

He even discusses the Indian economic policy:

I rely on an analysis I have present earlier, jointly with Jean Dreze (India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity and India: Development and Participation), that the Indian economy has suffered from a chronic underactivity of the government in some fields (particularly in basic education and elementary heath care) while being overactive in others (in the form in the so-called “license Raj ” in particular). While the 1992 reforms introduced by Manmohan Singh, then Finance Minister, attempted to address the latter problem in a visionary way, it did not, we had argued, go far enough in facing the first problem. There is considerable evidence that the present Indian government, led by Manmohan himself, is much more committed to removing that imbalance. The underinvestment in the social sector is now more fully recognised. Even though there is a long way to go, both the affirmation of the principles involved and the critiques that have been presented seem to have received significantly more attention. As an argumentative  Indian I am ready to offer appreciation here.

Hmm. Not much has changed though. Prof. Sen continues to talk about lack of focus here.

In the end:

In the confrontation between a large and a small India, the broader understanding can certainly win. But the victory for the broad idea of India cannot be stable unless those fighting for the larger conception know what they are fighting for. The reach of Indian traditions, including heterodoxy and the celebration of plurality and scepticism, requires a comprehensive recognition. Cognizance of India’s dialogic traditions is important for an adequate understanding of the capacious idea of India.


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