Amartya Sen and Jean Drèze launch ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions’

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and development economist Jean Drèze have launched their new book, ‘An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions’, to widespread acclaim.

A ‘devastating critique of India’s economic boom’, according to the Guardian, the book details India’s poor record on human development and failure to invest in health and education services, despite considerable economic growth.

The Economist, which describes ‘An Uncertain Glory’ as ‘an excellent but unsettling new book’, highlights the fact that public spending on health stands at $39 per person per year, compared with China’s $203 or Brazil’s $483; in India the total amounts to 1.2% of GDP, as against a global average of 6.5%.

The Guardian picks out the recurring figure of 50%. ‘Fifty per cent of children are stunted, the vast majority due to undernourishment. Fifty per cent of women have anaemia for the same reason. In one survey, there was no evidence of any teaching activity in 50% of schools in seven big northern states, which explains terrible academic underachievement,’ it says.

The Financial Times says Sen and Drèze ‘energetically make the case for a more activist state’, praising the book’s ‘elegant and restrained prose’.

Drèze and Sen have written several other books together, including ‘Poverty and Famines’, ‘Hunger and Public Action’ and ‘India: Economic Development and Social Opportunity’, but ‘An Uncertain Glory’ is ‘by far the most important and chilling’, according to the New Statesman.

Sen is Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, and an OPHI advisor, while Drèze is currently an honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, and Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, Allahabad University.

The Guardian has published an interview with Sen about ‘An Uncertain Glory’: ‘Amartya Sen: India’s Dirty Fighter‘.