In his collection of cultural essays, Prof.Amartya Sen examines key global issues such as hunger, illiteracy, alienation, deprivation, freedom of speech, inequality, injustice and exploitation, all explored through the prism of social justice and welfare. Described as Sen's "intellectual journey through the past and present", the polymath argues that public policy needs to change, in order to champion the illiterate, poor, ill, and vulnerable.
If there’s one thing to learn from this, it is that in a democracy, if you are critical of the government, you have to express it. Sitting quietly and grumbling about it is not going to help. That’s not what democracy is for.
He connects the disciplines of history, literature, culture, economics and politics, in order to tackle issues that pertain to both his native India, as well as the world as a whole. He includes his address to the UN General Assembly in 2004 as one of his essays, and a number of previously published pieces.
In his most recent talk given on November 9th at the London School of Economics (LSE), Amartya Sen discusses his progression and shift in focus from income inequality to development over the years, by stating that: "I got more interested in development,because it became clear to me that income inequality is an evil, but a lesser evil than the inequality of educational and healthcare opportunities."
He also discusses the importance of multiple identities when describing events and people, as he finds that ascribing a single identity is not only reductive and leads to alienation, but can also lead to more serious cases of hatred and violence against others, such as Islamophobia. He argues that "If you choose only one identity, you misdescribe a person...you can fairly easily incite a population into violence, by staying with one identity and nothing else."
Sen's talk at the London School of Economics discussing his work, ideas, and the book can be seen below: