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The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity

The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity [Kindle Edition]

Amartya Sen
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

India is a very diverse country with many distinct pursuits, vastly different convictions, widely divergent customs, and a veritable feast of viewpoints. The Argumentative Indian brings together an illuminating selection of writings from Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition.

The understanding and use of this rich argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India's democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

About the Author

Amartya Sen is Lamont University Professor at Harvard. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge 1998-2004. His most recent books are Development as Freedom and Rationality as Freedom. His books have been translated into thirty languages.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1718 KB
  • Print Length: 419 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0141012110
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 July 2006)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003YUC0P6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #188,448 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
In which Nobel Prize winning economist and thinker Amartya Sen tackles a variety of subjects relating to the subcontinent from ancient Vedic times to the present day in a very readable collection of essays and articles.

Themes covered include Hindu art and literature, Indian nationalism, the secular state, India's colonial past, Gandhi and so on. No great surprises in the choice of ground to cover but the perspective is a refreshing one. As a very successful NRI (non-resident Indian, an expat) Sen has no axe to grind and casts a dispassionate (some would say Western) eye over the last four thousand years of Indian culture and history.

A must-read for anyone interested in getting more than a cursory impression of this ancient and complex country. The perfect companion to the essential The Rough Guide to India.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Ultimately disappointing 26 July 2014
By thomasl
(Disclaimer: I am neither an Indian nor an NRI.)
I expected a lot from this but it was ultimately a disappointing read. Much of the book is written in the intellectual impostor's fashion, ie it needlessly uses many hard and difficult words and jargon to illustrate an argument rather than more accessible language. One small but typical example from hundreds: "The causal antecedents of this division undoubtedly deserve investigative attention." Why not write "The reasons for this have to be explored." or similar?
This seems all the more important as the book is fulsomely praised (by Dibek Debroy) with this: "Every Indian should read this book." Well-meaning and probably not a bad idea, but given the wooden and difficult-to-decipher jargon that pervades the text, this wildly optimistic recommendation seems like wishful thinking.
Even ignoring Sen's style, this book is in dire need of a stringent editor as it could have been delivered with less than half the pages it actually has, gaining more force and panache along the way. Alas, repetitions and rephrasings (sometimes of a rather pedestrian nature) abound. (OK, so the book is a collection of essays, so some repetition has to be expected... but it seems nobody really bothered with editing all those essays for the book). In fact, Sen gives fair warning about this with the first sentence in the first essay: "Prolixity is not alien to us in India." Indeed.
There are certainly some pearls to be found among all the bumph (ie the essay about Indian calendars) but they are too few and far between for a stimulating read.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Argumentative indian 27 Aug 2005
He is one of the very original writers in India. His view of Hindutva, Indian education and culture is very thought provoking. In most of the place in this book, he provides a sharp picture of good and ills of current and past India. He pours his deep anguish regarding the high-jacking of the Indianness by the Hindutva. He recites about the need of education for the India masses. For a fresher to India this book will provide an unbiased and original view of current and past India.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Argumentative Professor? 19 Sep 2007
By Aditya
According to Indian tradition, a dialogue can be of three types: 'vaad', or a discussion, which seeks to understand the opponent's point of view and explain one's own in order to reach the truth; 'vivaad' or an argument, which seeks to impose one's own point of view over that of the other; and the third, 'vitandavaad', which merely seeks to demolish the other person's views, without really offering any alternative system. Mr. Sen has, therefore, titled the book quite accurately, except that unwittingly he has thus revealed his own self-perception. An argumentative intellectual - not seeking the truth, but merely propagating his own views.

Mr. Sen seeks to demonstrate that India is a multi-hued society of many shades and composite cultures. It is also wrongly seen as primarily a spiritual culture, as it has many other talents as well. This is quite elementary. In order to do so, he ranges over a vast number of topics, and offers extremely interesting information about a number of them. He has a typically wry sense of humor, which is rather appreciable. He also has an axe to grind, which keeps making a screeching distraction throughout.

That axe is his grudge against the hard-line Hindu politics, particularly the BJP, RSS and its assorted allies. This keeps getting in his way, and he keeps making short raids to take pot shots at them. This becomes irritating after a little while. In reality, BJP / RSS do not influence or define Indian culture to the extent that we must become obsessed with them to the point of distraction. One also finds that this grudge leads him to constantly twist arguments and facts, in order to enable him to take a better shot at his arch-enemies: BJP/RSS.
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Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high; Where knowledge is free; Where the world has not been &quote;
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Akbar’s overarching thesis that ‘the pursuit of reason’ rather than ‘reliance on tradition’ is the way to address difficult problems &quote;
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Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be. Others will go on speaking, and you will not be able to argue back. &quote;
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