Amartya Sen Vs. Jagdish Bhagwati

Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati, world’s two prominent economists have come forward to express their opinion on the kind of economic vision the country should have in the changed political power at the center. Both the economists are India-born Americans. Amartya Sen, however, claims that he still holds Indian citizenship and is also coming to India to cast his vote.

Amartya Sen has his own apprehensions on the Modi-led government. His biggest concern is the safety of the minorities and the issue of secularism. Well, these issues require a deep insight and open debate on a global platform. What do you mean by minororities? What about the Hindu minorities in Bangladesh? What about the Hindu minorities in Pakistan? What about the minority Hindu Kashmiri Pundits who have been deserted from Jammu and Kashmir? What about the minorities in the US and other parts of the globe? A much bigger question is, if you divide the humanity between minority and majority how will you protect the minorities from the majority? The oppression of the minorities will prevail in some form or the other. And this is prevailing for millenia and the whole history is a witness to this stigma. This kind of division is a stigma on the entire humanity. If the whole humanity is divided beween poor and rich then how poverty can be eliminated? Just think !! If you create a pyramid out of a society on these lines then there will only be a conflict in the society in some form or the other. Just look up in the heaven? Do you find a pyramidal structure anywhere in the cosmos? Nowhere. You only find a circular structure among the planets, stars, and galaxies. The pyramidal structure prevails only in the societies. If you want only an economic growth then the pyramidal structure is okay. Then you will have huts alongside skyscrapers. Then you will have poor among the rich and the super-rich. And when the pyramid grows with the economic growth the gap between the rich and the poor, and the gap between the majority and the minority will also grow. So how will you remove the division and the conflict? This needs a different approach altogether. Those who eat only bread and butter have no idea about Jhunka Bhakar. A pyramidal structure is a symbol for prosperity with conflict, and a circular structure is a symbol for prosperity with peace.

In the same way, when you divide the society into different religions, how will you then attain to peaceful coexistence of these religions? This is a far bigger question. And if the religions become vote banks then the problem will further get complicated.

Amartya Sen had come very heavily in July 2013 against Modi. He said at that time that he didn’t want him to become PM because he didn’t have secular credentials. You can read his views and opinions in a TOI news here.

There are always two paths – Prosperity and peace is one path, and Propserity and conflict is another path. And these two paths can never go together. And every society has to choose. The western society has chosen only growth. And as a consequence the society has grown in material abundance but there is no peace. There is conflict alongside growth. There is no peace in the prosperity. On the other hand the eastern society has chosen only peace. And as a consequence there is only poverty. This society looks peaceful on the circumference but it is not true peace. Prosperity is outside and peace is inside. And this requires a continuous balance. And Enlightenment is an art of balance of these two – prosperity and peace. And this is possible at an individual level and collective level, and hence requires different mind-set and a different culture.

Jagdish Bhagwati on the other hand has a faith on Modi-led government. And he is ready to help, guide and advise the Modi-led government in the future. In an interview to TOI he says, “The Gujarat model is not just about creating prosperity. It is also about using the wealth that is created, to increase social spending. Personal social responsibility works in Gujarat. Narendra Modi’s own life, where he dedicated himself to social service, is par excellence the essence of Gujarat’s approach to wealth – create it but avoid self-indulgence. Corporate social responsibility is meaningless if the corporation is making losses.”

Every economic growth model requires a holistic growth model. Economy, Education, Environment, Ecology, and Enlightenment are not five different compartments. They all are different components of a healthy and peaceful society. Prosperity has no meaning without peace, and peace also has no meaning without prosperity. Economy has no meaning if there is no environment to live. Education has no meaning without an ecology to lead a meaningful life. And what will you do with Enlightenment when you don’t have food and clothes? What is therefore needed is a holistic approach in everything. And this is possible with a far bigger vision.

I suggest that the Modi-led government if comes to power, should not only seek expertise from outside but should also seek expertise from inside. In India there are many great economists. India’s economic problems are unique and different, and I don’t think we can bank only on an outside expertise. We should also insource this expertise from within India.

Education, Economy, Environment, Ecology, and Enlightenment are the five major components of a healthy society – a society that is prosperous and peaceful. All these components are inter-related and inter-dependent. The society should aim at seamless integration of all these components. And all the people in the society should continuously strive towards churning these components. 

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