The gap between the have and the have nots in India is a reality. And the latest book,An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions (Penguin India,Rs 699),by Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen and fellow economist Jean Dreze grapples with that issue. At the book launch on Monday evening at the India Habitat Centre,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.
The 100-pages book can be read in a single train journey,at least on the Indian railways, said Dreze with a chuckle,who went 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 laid out the premise of the book. 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.