He is the Mother Teresa of Economics, a renowned Indian Economist, a deserving Nobel Laureate, and philosopher by nature, these are the different faces of Amartya Sen. Born in 1933, Sen was born into a family of scholars and in a scholarly environment set up by another Indian Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore. His grandfather was Ksitimohan Sen, the famous scholar on medieval Indian literature, and his father Ashutosh Sen taught at the Dhaka University. Having been brought up in such an academic setting, it was only natural that Amartya Sen showed scholastic inclinations.
Amartya Sen career is dotted with achievements and accolades. The greatest recognition of his work is, of course, receiving the noble prize for his work in welfare economics. He has also received the highest civilian award of India, Bharat Ratna, the Companion of Honour from UK, International Humanist Award, and Lifetime Achievement Award by the Indian Chamber of Commerce among many others.
Sen work on welfare economics earned him the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998. Kenneth Arrow, an American economist first shared to the world his thoughts on the theory of social choice. Sen made known how Arrow Impossibility Theorem can be applied and thus augment the theory of social choice through his interest in the history of economic thought and philosophy. His book Poverty and Famines: An essay on Entitlement and Deprivation published in 1981 talks about how various factors lead to famine. He proved that contrary to popular belief it is not just lack of food but the gross inequalities built in the system of food distribution, which is the main reason for famines.
His welfare economics addresses the economic policies on the basis of the well being of a community, criticizing self-interested economic policies. He has discovered methods of assessing famines in order to improve the economic conditions of the poor. He is a vociferous defender of political freedom and is rightly called as the conscience of his profession.