An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions

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Penguin Books Limited, Jul 4, 2013 - Social Science - 448 pages

From two of India's leading economists, Jean Drze (Hunger and Public Action) and Nobel Prize-winner Amartya Sen (The Idea of Justice), An Uncertain Glory is a passionate, considered argument for the need for a greater understanding of inequalities in India, despite economic development.

When India regained independence from colonial rule in 1947, it immediately adopted a firmly democratic political system, with multiple parties, freedom of speech and extensive political rights. The famines of the British era disappeared, and steady economic growth replaced stagnation, accelerating further over the last three decades to make India's growth the second fastest among large economies. Despite a recent dip, it is still one of the highest in the world.

Maintaining rapid yet environmentally sustainable growth remains an important and achieveable goal for India. Drze and Sen argue that the country's main problems lie in the disregarding of the essential needs of the people. There have been major failures both to foster participatory growth and to make good use of the public resources generated by economic growth to enhance people's living conditions; social and physical services remain inadequate, from schooling and medical care to safe water, electricity, and sanitation. In the long run, even high economic growth is threatened by the underdevelopment of infrastructure and the neglect of human capabilities, in contrast with the holistic approach pioneered by Japan, South Korea and China.

In a democracy, addressing these failures requires not only significant policy change, but also a clearer public understanding of the abysmal extent of deprivation in the country. Yet public discussion in India tends to be constricted to the lives and concerns of the relatively affluent. This book presents a powerful analysis not only of India's deprivations and inequalities, but also of the restraints on addressing them - and of the possibility of change through democratic practice.

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User Review  - arosoff - LibraryThing

This is an interesting and detailed examination of India's failure to turn GDP growth into developmental progress for large segments of its population. India has dropped behind other developing ... Read full review

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User Review  - nmarun - LibraryThing

The authors - Sen and Dreze - have done an exceptional work in detailing the actual state of India in this book. This book is an eye-opener where it talks about conditions of people living in India ... Read full review

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About the author (2013)

JEAN DRZE, currently visiting professor at Ranchi University (ex-LSE), has lived in India since 1979. He has made wide-ranging contributions
to development economics and public policy, with special reference to India. He is the author of Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone, the co-author of the Public Report on Basic Education in India and, with Amartya Sen, of Hunger and Public Action and An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions.

Amartya Sen is Professor of Economics and Professor of Philosophy at Harvard. He was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1998 to 2004, and won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998. His many celebrated books including Development as Freedom (1999), The Argumentative Indian (2005), Identity and Violence: The Illusion of Destiny (2007), and The Idea of Justice (2010), have been translated into more than 40 languages. In 2012 he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama and in 2020 he was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade by President Steinmeier.

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