In a world full of flamboyant business tycoons and sports superstars, researchers and academicians are often overlooked, even though their work has a larger impact than most others. While researchers and academicians submit their work periodically to gain perspective and recognition, the ultimate gratification for them is the tangible impact of their work on the betterment of humankind. And Nobel Laureate Dr. Amartya Sen is no different. This blog will explore how the world-famous Dr Sen once used to teach at LSE and also the laurels he has won over the years of his stellar career.
Dr. Amartya Sen was born on 3 November 1933 in Shantiniketan, Bengal in pre-independent India and belonged to a family of intellectuals and teachers. After his schooling in Shantiniketan, he completed his undergraduate education from Presidency College, Kolkata and later went to pursue his higher studies from Trinity College, Cambridge, where he received a degree in B.A. in 1955, followed by a degree in M.A. in 1959. It is interesting to note that when he was young, he initially wasn’t interested in Economics and rather wanted to pursue mathematics, physics and sanskrit. It is this interest that he had in mathematics, which developed his passion for economics.
Coming from a family of intellectuals, teaching was in Dr Sen’s blood and that’s probably the reason why it isn’t surprising that he took up his first teaching position at the age of 23 only. And while he lived in a palatial house, he was surrounded by utter poverty which made an indelible impression on him and initiated his pursuit of welfare economics.
After completing his degree he went on to complete his PhD which helped him fulfil his dream of becoming an economic professor, as he taught in various prestigious universities around the globe. One such institution was the London School of Economics, the University of London, where he started teaching in the year 1971 and completed his tenure in 1977. However, he continued to teach part-time at LSE from 1978 to 1982.
It was during this period of approximately 10 years that he produced some of his most seminal work such as the Social Choice Theory and later the book Poverty and Famine: an essay on entitlement and deprivation, which is considered by many as the bible for budding researchers to understand welfare economics.
Dr Sen felt that the intellectual atmosphere at the LSE in particular and in London in general was most gratifying, and allowed him to interact with a dazzling array of historians, economists, sociologists and others. He was also very proud of the students he had at LSE, some of whom became world-famous economists later, such Dr Kaushik Basu and Dr Rajat Deb.
In 1998, Dr Amartya Sen received the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his theoretical, field, and ethics work in welfare economics and for his research advancing the understanding of social-choice theory, poverty, and the measurement of welfare. He has received top civilian honors around the world, including France’s Légion d’Honneur (2012) and India’s Bharat Ratna (1999), as well as more than 100 honorary degrees from institutions on five continents. Sen received an honorary Doctor of Laws from Harvard Law School in 2000 and is a senior fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard.
Not only is Dr Sen considered by many as a living legend of Economics and he is also credited with bringing to light the human side of Economics and the importance of inclusivity.