Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Argumentative Indian: Amartya Sen

Amartya Sen's new book of essays looks like a must-get. Here is the way The Guardian sets up their review:

Every year, the 1998 winner of the Nobel Prize for economics returns to Santiniketan, the tiny university town 100-odd miles from Calcutta. In Santiniketan, the former Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, can be seen on a bicycle, friendly and unassuming, chatting with the locals and working for a trust he has set up with the money from his Nobel Prize. One of the most influential public thinkers of our times is strongly rooted in the country in which he grew up; he is deeply engaged with its concerns.
There can, then, be few people better equipped than this Lamont University Professor at Harvard to write about India and the Indian identity, especially at a time when the stereotype of India as a land of exoticism and mysticism is being supplanted with the stereotype of India as the back office of the world.

In this superb collection of essays, Sen smashes quite a few stereotypes and places the idea of India and Indianness in its rightful, deserved context. Central to his notion of India, as the title suggests, is the long tradition of argument and public debate, of intellectual pluralism and generosity that informs India's history.

Bet you didn't know that bit about him going to Santiniketan every year? There is a nice article from a 1999 issue of Frontline about it.

Unfortunately, Amazon is saying that the U.S. release date isn't until October. You might be able to buy it straight from Amazon UK; I'm not 100% sure it will work, though. In India, it looks like the book is available for Rs. 650 from Penguin.


Suvendra Nath Dutta said...

I have bought things from Amazon UK. In particular because CD's here sometimes have their content edited (like MIA's Arular). Its fast, very similar in price, and your Amazon US account works there.

10:16 AM  
[ tyler curtain ] said...

I have purchased many of my 'only in the UK' books on --


10:29 AM  
Anup said...

Nanopolitan has collected a few links where people (including me) are talking about the Argumentative Indian.

4:11 PM  
Kumar said...

Dr. Singh:

"...Central to his notion of India, as the title suggests, is the long tradition of argument and public debate..."

Yeah, I hope it gains popularity in India and induces at least some to rigorously study the various traditions generating all that argument and counter-argument. At least a few traditions are still being taught by a few pandits. Who knows, maybe even they'll get more traffic ?

Btw, Sen's book seems to be mostly a collection of various essays he's written over the last few years. If you're eager to get a preview, you can read a few of them in The New Republic's archives. In any case, I'm looking forward to the book as well.


5:05 PM  
tilotamma said...

Just got the book from India, today!

10:38 PM  
gs said...

i got the book last wednesday and cannot take my eyes of is a collection of essays written by one of the best contemporary minds.amartya sen's love and pride for his country and deep understanding of its culture and ethos comes out literally in every page.anyone keen to know more about our history in the right perspective should read this book.

6:25 AM  

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