The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen
Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

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Synopsis

A Nobel Laureate offers a dazzling new book about his native country


India is a country with many distinct traditions, widely divergent customs, vastly different convictions, and a veritable feast of viewpoints. In The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen draws on a lifetime study of his country's history and culture to suggest the ways we must understand India today in the light of its rich, long argumentative tradition.


The millenia-old texts and interpretations of Hindu, Buddhist, Jain, Muslim, agnostic, and atheistic Indian thought demonstrate, Sen reminds us, ancient and well-respected rules for conducting debates and disputations, and for appreciating not only the richness of India's diversity but its need for toleration.


Though Westerners have often perceived India as a place of endless spirituality and unreasoning mysticism, he underlines its long tradition of skepticism and reasoning, not to mention its secular contributions to mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, medicine, and political economy.


Sen discusses many aspects of India's rich intellectual and political heritage, including philosophies of governance from Kautilya's and Ashoka's in the fourth and third centuries BCE to Akbar's in the 1590s; the history and continuing relevance of India's relations with China more than a millennium ago; its old and well-organized calendars; the films of Satyajit Ray and the debates between Gandhi and the visionary poet Tagore about India's past, present, and future.


The success of India's democracy and defense of its secular politics depend, Sen argues, on understanding and using this rich argumentative tradition. It is also essential to removing the inequalities (whether of caste, gender, class, or community) that mar Indian life, to stabilizing the now precarious conditions of a nuclear-armed subcontinent, and to correcting what Sen calls the politics of deprivation. His invaluable book concludes with his meditations on pluralism, on dialogue and dialectics in the pursuit of social justice, and on the nature of the Indian identity.



 

About Amartya Sen

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Amarty Sen is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1988, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science.
 
Published October 15, 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 409 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Even the rather commonplace observation that India is incredibly diverse seems fresh when elucidated by the author in an essay devoted to the country’s many calendars: the Buddha Nirvana, the Saka, the Kollam, etc.

Oct 12 2005 | Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

The Guardian

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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity by Amartya Sen Allen Lane £25, pp409 This needs saying at the outset.

Jul 03 2005 | Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

The Guardian

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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture, and Identity by Amartya Sen 432pp, Allen Lane, £25 EP Thompson once wrote that since "all the convergent influences of the world" - Hindu, Muslim, Christian, secular, Stalinist, liberal, Maoist, democratic socialist, Gandhian - run th...

Jul 09 2005 | Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

Publishers Weekly

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As India's multicultural society confronts violent sectarianism at home and a range of destabilizing forces internationally, these illuminating essays from Nobel Prize–winning economist Sen (most of which began as articles or lectures over the past decade) offer a timely and cogent examination of...

Aug 22 2005 | Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

BookRack

And to keep the review short, I agree with William Darlymple(his remark about the book, printed on the cover), ”One of the most stimulating books about India to be written in ages”.

Jun 01 2010 | Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

India Today

To celebrate the many benefits of voice therapy, Sen travels back to the Vedas and the Upanishads, Buddhist empires and Mughal courts, India's calendars and imaginations.

| Read Full Review of The Argumentative Indian: Wri...

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