In sixteen linked essays, Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen discusses India’s intellectual and political heritage and how its argumentative tradition is. When Amartya Sen titles a book The Argumentative Indian, the reader naturally assumes something by way of an autobiography. (Or, as a friend teased. The Argumentative Indian, by Amartya Sen. India’s faith in freedom. By Pavan K Varma; Friday 12 August 0 comments.

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He begins the book with the following words: Well, this was a gamble that paid off. Amartya Sen illustrates the argumentative tradition in modern day using Gandhi and Tagorewho had a relationship of great respect for each other while sharing completely contradicting viewpoints towards nationalism, education, economy and many more.

Despite all of this, The Argumentative Indian is a book I recommend to everyone with an interest not just in India, but also the slippery relationship between cultural uniqueness and so-called universal values. This makes the book more or less a highly subjective take on what is already a very subjective topic. Not to be missed by any Indian. The criss-cross referencing that ruins the flow of the work is a curse too. A first important theme is, as I wrote above, the misrepresentation of Indian culture and history in particular, and Asian culture and history in general.

As I write this, white supremacists are holding a highly visible rally on an American college campus. May be i was expecting a lot or may be because i am a TWIT, but this book gave me lot of “tch, tch” moments!!

The Argumentative Indian – Wikipedia

On the contrary, he goes on to show how the beautiful result of a confluence of so different cultures. His arguments also fall short of convincing the audience when he keeps reiterating the same examples of Ashoka and Akbar which ultimately sound more like exceptions than norms unlike what he’s trying to portray. This Tagore was not whom I read about in my history books.

It is a very very good book that requires a little patience to read through. People have been quoted repeatedly for stating the same position, as if endorsements from historical figures confirm anything. Sen himself is quite the argumentative Indian and sometimes the book reads After all my dramatic agony and breathless complaining, I am glad I endured.

Gigantic Bamiyan statues that were marvelous enough to make the cut for a millennia-old travelogue? The documentary is essentially a two-part interview conducted by the famed economist Kaushik Basu, conducted with a year gap between the two conversations. As one reads the bookone can picturise Nehru sitting in Ahmednagar fort thinking about India, with pride while narrating her glorious past, with pity while narrating her then state prior to Independence and with determination and hope about her future.


There is no Bamiyan moment to be found within these pages: Otherwise, the internet is simply one big exercise in dilettantism—a lot about a little, but not enough even for ipse se nihil scire id unum sciat. Almost every good hindu parent narrates selective stories from Mahabharata and Ramayana to their kids – the guys learn to listen to their elders from Rama and girls learn to never laugh out loud from Draupadi.

It’s one The Argumentative Indian is one of my all time favourites. Sen points out that such debates were often supported by monarchs like the Mughal Emperor Akbar and Emperor Ashoka. Over the course of reading this book, sometimes I couldn’t help but feel suffocated by his views which were rather one dimensional in more than one instance.

The second section seeks to restore the reputation of Rabindranath Tagore as an intellectual polymath, combining spiritual and political ideas, and explores India’s relationship to other cultures, including the West and China, especially the peaceful and intellectually rewarding cross-fertilising relationship between the two great Asian cultures.

For instance, India was a Buddhist country for about a years and how calling it a Hindu country by the political parties is not induan true. This is a book that will require you to pause, thinkturn back a few pages, make connections and then visualise the grand idea presented with a grand vision.

This book is not a bedtime read.

The Argumentative Indian

Sen was best known for his work on the causes of famine, which led to the development of practical solutions for preventing or limiting the effects of real or perceived shortages of food.

The arguments seem contrived and forced at many places, and I have lost the count of how many times he uses the example of Emperor Ashoka and Akbar to prove his point in the aamartya. Sen underestimate the importance of India in spreading its own culture and scientific contributions to foreign lands in general and China in particular discussed heavily in Chapter 8: Sen for sticking on to “Hindu Extremism” for quite a while during the first few chapters which probably required undian investigation.

The exchange of ideas is made evident through records of various foreign scholars such as Alberuni who accompanied Muhammad of Ghazni to India and Chinese scholars like Yi Jing, who studied medicine at the Nalanda university. The Argumentative Indian, though written in an academic style, with convoluted sentence formations, is still an enjoyable read due to exploration of relatively unknown facets of Indian culture.

The first three pages of every chapter and sub-chapter are essentially wordy justifications of why the topic is deserving of discussion in the first place. The equidistance must take the form, then, of being altogether removed from each.


The central swn being made sdn again the influence of different cultures on each other. Probably I am not a ‘calendar-person’ after-all. The book is a collection of wide-ranging essays – most of which were previously published elsewhere – that are difficult to encapsulate in a single thesis, but maybe it would be something along these amarty They did it because Germany was allegedly building one as I heard Richard Feynman saying that it was the reason given to him by others who asked him to join that programme.

The early advocates of his work, among them Ezra Pound and WB Yeats, went from championing him to deriding indiaj and Tagore’s reputation lapsed into oblivion outside his own country before long.

Even when it comes to subjective analyses, issues aren’t delved into and obvious positions are stated with no argumentatie inductions or deductions. I bought the book from Flipkart because I had read it earlier from a library amartys wanted it for myself. Sen dedicates an entire chapter to discuss a statistical study of gender-based inequality throughout India on a geographical basis, and discusses what steps can be taken for an effective liberation of women.

What I had hoped to be an informative, well-researched account of Indian philosophies and school of thoughts turned out to be an amateur interpreta There is an old adage that a specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less until finally, he knows everything about nothing. Any sense of uniqueness or cohesion on the part of an author is pressed flat by the need to match the format idnian which the text originally appeared; New York Review of Books; New Republic; Financial Times; amaftya al.

Sen does not indulge in triumphalism about his country’s past; nor does he spare Western influences like James Mill’s History of British India that have oversimplified and distorted the Indian reality. And at other times he is in such a hurry running after his departing t This fascinating book on Indian identity is a journey with its ups and downs.

Oct 26, Aydin Mohseni rated it really liked it Shelves: I’m ammartya no way capable of judging how good an economist Amartya Sen is. Sen presents liberal ideas, backing them up with cogent arguments and a smatter of history. Was Sen simply lazy, or is the evidence really that thin on the ground?