Sen is not simply wrong; he also poses a serious danger to economic policy in India. Indeed, having opposed implicitly or explicitly the liberal reforms that, starting vigorously in 1991, transformed the Indian economy and pulled it out of its abysmal growth rate, and pulled millions above the poverty line, Sen had suffered the misfortune of having seen Indian policy and economy pass him by. Now, he seeks to resurrect himself by endorsing programmes such as the National Food Security Bill, or NFSB, (which, of course, predates Sen’s endorsement by a long shot) which promise substantial “redistribution”.
But, for reasons discussed by many (such as Panagariya and Arvind Subramanian among them), therein lies, not glory, but yet another disaster that will make Sen the only well-known economist to have inflicted damage twice on Indian policy and therewith on poverty reduction: first, by supporting the counterproductive policies that undermined growth prior to the 1991 reforms and now, by supporting populist measures such as NFSB that would deal a blow yet again against the poor (as I explain below). The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions. Read More