Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Country of First Boys by Amartya Sen

I think, as an Indian it is very important to read Sen. I find him more of an Indian diplomat who, through facts and staunch arguments puts before the world the contributions and richness of our nation and at the same time deliberates and appeals to fellow countrymen to make sense of the chaotic and parochial mentality which still grips us(for which he is flagged). He remains a work in progress to whom the ideal India is still in the making, alongside him. 

Sen's latest book, The Country of First Boys , consists of 13 essays on varied and surprisingly fresh topics out of which only 4 are written afresh for this book, with the rest coming up as compilations from various talks and lectures. One particular thing, for which this book has to be specially mentioned is Sen's coming forward on some on the confrontational issues of recent times, like his removal from Nalanda university and his apparent image of being pro-UPA/Congress. He has come clean on issues of Subsidy vs Redistribution, his desire of favoring a right wing government(surprised?, he brings the experiences of erstwhile Swatantra Party) etc. 
The chapter on Calender and how intermingling of ideas and religions have produced similarities in our dates was an interesting read. The subsequent chapters, particularly the detailed account of Nalanda University, Importance of Tagore(and humanities) and the title chapter 'The Country of First Boys' makes the book stand apart from his rest of the works. Though I must say,  there were some re-iterations of Sen's favourite concerns like Development and Freedom, the recent threats of Hinduvta coupled with a critique of the perceived hindu history of India. Globalization and its relation to Justice also finds a detailed mention in one of the chapters.
The Country of First Boys
by Amartya Sen, 2015

The Book is a 'general read', with no diverging themes. In words of Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who wrote its foreword, it should be read without an appetite for knowledge, a thirst for data or hunger for measurable quantities. It should be read for the pleasure which comes with insights.   

Rating: 7/10 

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