Sunil's Blog – Mistico Indio

Ruminations of a poet and philosopher

Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen speaks on Gender Equality at IIT Powai

Posted by Sunil on February 14, 2013

By Sunil Kumar

Gyanam Paramam Dhyeyam (Knowledge Is the Supreme Goal). This was the driving force for the three days of India‘s largest science and technology college festival at the IIT, Bombay. On a chilly Saturday evening in this old Powai landmark, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen spoke at length on a need to revamp policy and emphasize critically on human development indicators as criteria for effective growth.

He was delivering the GL Mehta Memorial Lecture at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IIT-B) on ‘India: A Defense and a Critique’. His lecture had some revealing insights about macroeconomic indicators in the country. He pointed out flaws in the much-vaunted Gujarat model of growth; repeatedly emphasizing on a holistic correlation between factors such as education; gender equality, infant mortality, public health and economic growth. In nearly every comparison, the state ranked below Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala. According to Sen; he was not advocating a “Kerala” model per se; but stressed on imbibing the best from every part of the country.

He reminisced about his long academic life; numerous publications and constant travel across the globe. According to Sen; the country was suffering from abysmal power planning both at the central and the state level. On the much-publicized India-China comparison; Sen believed that investment in infrastructure and public health had paid rich dividends for the Middle Kingdom. Sen also talk about India’s performance vis-a-vis other states in the region, emphasizing that even unlikely candidates like Bangladesh had superseded the country in human development landmarks such as life expectancy and gender equality.

Some people would be eager to know the name of his next publication; a phrase from ‘Two Gentlemen of Verona’, “An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions”, co-authored by him and Jean Dreze. In his long presentation; Sen vociferously advocated the importance of public health in the country and a need for more state intervention in the sector. According to Amartya Sen; a true market economy would be one that consistently improved life for its citizens; keeping in line with Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.”

Other Indian winners of the Nobel Prize include Hargobind Khorana, Rabindranath Tagore and V.S Naipaul. Powai was blessed to have such an interesting personality amongst us.

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