The gap between the have and the have-nots is a grim Indian reality. The latest book,An Uncertain Glory: India and its Contradictions (Penguin India,Rs 699),by Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen and fellow economist Jean Dreze grapples with this issue. At the book launch on Monday evening at India Habitat Centre in Delhi,the duo expressed their disappointment over the state of affairs in the country before a packed audience of economists,bureaucrats and journalists. While Justice Leila Seth,who launched the book described it as an agitational one that calls upon the media and us to ensure we do our part, the speakers expressed their agitation via a barrage of statistics,economic theory and policy papers.
They kept the book to 100 pages,which can be read in a single train journey,at least on the Indian Railways, said Dreze,with a chuckle,before going on to paint a dismal picture of the Indian economy by drawing comparisons with Bangladeshs level of progress. Dreze kept the audience interest peaked by punctuating his speech with one-liners. I dont like Power Point much because it ends up giving too much power to those who dont have a point, he said at the beginning of his presentation.
Meanwhile,Sen remained more grounded and composed in his analysis,laying out the premise of the book more eloquently. It is very important to recognise what the book is about. It is more about public service for the poor. That is not redistribution in the sense of passing income from the rich to the poor. If we can focus on improving public service,then we can ensure a better rate of growth, he said.