Amartya Sen is an economist cum philosopher. He is labeled as one of the greatest Bengali by the BBC’s poll of the greatest Bengali of all time (The Daily Star, 2004) and was awarded the Noble Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998 for having long-drawn-out the arena of welfare economics, which hunts for the evaluation of economic policies in terms of their impact on the welfare of the community, to a wide range: choice of techniques: a characteristic of the theory of planned economic development (Sen, 1960), on economic inequality (Sen, 1997), a treatise on entitlement and deprivation (Sen, 1982) and interface among choice, welfare, and measurement (Sen, 1983).
Sen talked about collective choice and social welfare (Sen, 1970), and gave an economic analysis and approach to social welfare. It was he, who tried to build a relationship among economic development, freedom, and the capabilities (Sen, 1999) and considered freedom, rationality and social choice and welfare for economic development of a country. According to Sen, fundamental and essential redistributive actions are indispensable for the pro-poor growth or growth that benefits poor.
When human skills, abilities, capabilities expand, choices and freedom of people enlarge, and there is the realization of human rights, we can call it human development. It means overall development, mental as well as social development by way of growing and developing coupled with experiences and learning new things in life. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) expresses human development as “the process of enlarging people’s choices to lead a long and healthy life, to be educated, to enjoy a decent standard of living as well as political freedom, other guaranteed human rights and various ingredients of self-respect” (United Nations Development Programme, 1997).
The aim of Human Development is to expand the choices people so that they can lead a life they have reason to value and improve the human condition so that their quality of life is good. Consequently, human development is a multi-dimensional term, moving beyond economic growth, which is only a means to an end, for the end is the completeness of life and maximization of social welfare by way of enlarging people’s choices and preferences. Sen’s contributions in the arena of development economics have had a noteworthy impact not only on the concept of human development but the formulation of the Human Development Report.
The concept of capability is the feature of human development as far as original, artistic and productive work is concerned. Sen’s groundbreaking contribution to development economics and human development indicators is the idea of capability developed in his article “Equality of What” (Sen, 2010). The existing concrete capabilities of the citizens, argues Sen, are the measuring rod for the efficiency of the governments.
Sen is in favour of the deductive method because deductive or top-down development will always win the rights and duties of the citizens. In order to strive for citizenship and the ability to vote, it is very important for the citizens to enjoy basic rights and duties which can range from the very comprehensive, such as education, to the very particular, such as transport facility to the elections. It is only when such hurdles are detached the citizen may justly be said to make a right personal choice. It is under the discretion of the very particular society to make the right list of minimum capabilities guaranteed by that society (Martha, 2000). Our capabilities deal with the competence, skill development, knowledge upgradation and ability to work. It helps in capital formation and value-added production. Accordingly, besides physical capital formation, human capital formation by way of training and skills promotes economic growth and economic development. ‘Human Development and Economic Sustainability’ is Sen’s classic work. It is a fundamental argumentation for the expansion of human development and economic sustainability which is often seen as a substance of intergenerational parity, but the condition of what is to be persistent and sustained is not always candid (Anand & Sen, 2000).
The amalgamation of the various philosophical and conceptual views around the great macroeconomic cum environmental problems facing the globe demand the setting up of a complex system of real-world and speculative relationships between man and environment causing a strong link between human development and sustainable development, and assigning greater importance to the human beings and their role in the economy, according to their influences and controls, rights and duties for maximizing their individual and social welfare (Roldan & Henao, 2017). The concepts of Sen on human development and sustainability coupled with other macroeconomic variables are the medicines to the economic cum environmental problems of the world in general and developing in particular.
Why do developing countries have poor human development report? Why do developing countries have poor growth performance? Why development should be viewed as a struggle to spread the real freedoms that individuals enjoy, rather than simply concentrating and converging on measurements such as GDP? Why are the capabilities of highly skilled countries higher than the low skilled countries? Once we muse over Amartya Sen’s economic thoughts , we can find convincing answers to these questions which ran through a common line of human development.
Anand, S. & Sen,A. (2000). Human development and economic sustainability. World Development 28(12): 2029–2049.
The Daily Star. (2004). BBC’s poll of greatest Bengali of all time. Vol. 4 (313). Retrieved from http://archive.thedailystar.net/2004/04/16/d4041601066.htm
Nussbaum, M. (2000). Women and Human Development: The Capabilities Approach, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sen, Amartya (1960). Choice of Techniques: An Aspect of the Theory of Planned Economic Development. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Sen, Amartya; Foster, James E. (1997). On economic inequality. Radcliffe Lectures. Oxford New York: Clarendon Press Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198281931.
Sen, Amartya (1982). Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation. Oxford New York: Clarendon Press Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198284635.
Sen, Amartya (1983). Choice, Welfare, and Measurement. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 9780631137962.
Sen, Amartya (2010). Equality of what? , in MacMurrin, Sterling M., The Tanner lectures on human values, 4 (2nd ed.), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 195–220, ISBN 9780521176415.
Roldan, V.S.J., & Henao, N.R. (2017). Sustainable development and human development. Evolution or transition in the scientific conception of sustainability? Retrieved from http://www.scielo.org.co/pdf/pml/v12n2/1909-0455-pml-12-02-00103.pdf