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Revisiting Amartya Sen vs Jagdish Bhagwati debate: Was Sen right after all?

Summary:
Manas Chakravarty revisits the Sen vs Bhagwati debate in this moneycontrol article: Just before the general elections in 2014, a rather unlikely fight erupted in the pink papers. In the Left corner, wearing what some people said were bright red shorts, was Nobel Laureate and economist Amartya Sen. In the Right corner, wearing true blue shorts, was eminent trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati. The dispute was whether social welfare and health and education were best served by rapid economic growth, which was the view from Bhagwati’s corner, or whether social equity and health and education lay the groundwork for rapid growth, which was Sen’s thesis. These arguments became prominent in the context of the 2014 elections. The pundits said Narendra Modi stood for rapid growth, while the UPA

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Manas Chakravarty revisits the Sen vs Bhagwati debate in this moneycontrol article:

Just before the general elections in 2014, a rather unlikely fight erupted in the pink papers. In the Left corner, wearing what some people said were bright red shorts, was Nobel Laureate and economist Amartya Sen. In the Right corner, wearing true blue shorts, was eminent trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati.

The dispute was whether social welfare and health and education were best served by rapid economic growth, which was the view from Bhagwati’s corner, or whether social equity and health and education lay the groundwork for rapid growth, which was Sen’s thesis.

These arguments became prominent in the context of the 2014 elections. The pundits said Narendra Modi stood for rapid growth, while the UPA was all about social welfare.

The UPA’s critics, who were legion, made Bhagwati their intellectual mascot and argued there could be no redistribution without rapid growth. Let India grow first, they said, by freeing markets and allowing the ‘animal spirits’ of entrepreneurs free rein and there would soon be a surplus that would trickle down to the masses. Go in for social welfare too soon, they added, and growth would falter, just as it had done under the UPA government.

…….

And then came the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Amol Agrawal
I am currently pursuing my PhD in economics. I have work-ex of nearly 10 years with most of those years spent figuring economic research in Mumbai’s financial sector.

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