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

Amartya Sen
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 July 2006

From Nobel prize-winning economist Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian Culture, History and Identity brings together an illuminating selection of writings on contemporary India.

India is an immensely diverse country with many distinct pursuits, vastly different convictions, widely divergent customs and a veritable feast of viewpoints.

Out of these conflicting views spring a rich tradition of skeptical argument and cultural achievement which is critically important, argues Amartya Sen, 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.

'Profound and stimulating ... the product of a great mind at the peak of its power'
  William Dalrymple, Sunday Times

'One of the most influential public thinkers of our times...This is a book that needed to have been written...It would be no surprise if it were to become as defining and as influential as work as Edward Said's Orientalism'
  Soumya Bhattacharya, Observer

'The winner of the 1998 Nobel prize in economics is a star in India ... he deserves the recognition ... shows that the argumentative gene is not just a part of India's make-up that can easily be wished away'
  The Economist

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 The Idea of Justice, Identity and Violence and Development as Freedom. His books have been translated into thirty languages.


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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 July 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141012110
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141012117
  • Product Dimensions: 2.8 x 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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.

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Prolixity is not alien to us in India. Read the first page
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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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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Argumentative indian 27 Aug 2005
Format:Hardcover
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
Format:Paperback
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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