An Introduction to Their Careers and Main Published Works
THE 1998 NOBEL MEMORIAL LAUREATE AMARTYA SEN AMARTYA SEN Amartya K. Sen (b. 1933) © The Nobel Foundation Amartya Sen was born on a university campus in Santiniketan, near Calcutta, India, in 1933. He comes from an academic family – his father taught chemistry at Dhaka University (now the capital of Bangladesh) – and his maternal grandfather was a teacher of Sanskrit and Indian cultural history. Sen says of himself that he has ‘not had any serious non-academic job’ (Nobel Foundation, 2004). Although he spent time in Dhaka and Burma as a child, Sen’s formative schooling took place in Santiniketan at Visva-Bharati. He remembers that the school had the virtuous emphases of ‘fostering curiosity’ and embracing cultural diversity; and this at a time when India itself was about to descend into a period of sectarian-based communal violence. Sen relates events around the murder of a Muslim man that he witnessed in his family’s predominantly Hindu neighbourhood. The man had simply been looking for work but the search cost him his life. The experience for Sen was ‘devastating’ but it also made him think about the risks that extreme poverty – a form of ‘economic unfreedom’ – can force people to take (Nobel Foundation, 2004). As a nine-year-old, Sen was exposed at ﬁrst hand to the ‘harrowing scenes’ of the Bengal famine, in which he later estimated almost three million people died. In response to a question about how he became interested in economics, Sen once 266 AMARTYA SEN replied, ‘For someone from India, it is...
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