Author: Amartya Sen
The essay ‘Inequality, Instability and Voice’ is one of the articles written by Amartya Sen. It figures in the book ‘The Argumentative Indian’ which is a collection of writings on Indian history, culture and identity by the Economics Nobel prize winner. In the essay, Sen touches upon three issues. They are: •
Inequality in the Indian society and the quest for equality; •
Unity and diversity in India; and
Need for greater commitment to dialogue and solidarity in South Asia. Inequality and Quest for Equality
Amartya Sen notes that India has had a bad record of social inequality of which the country’s caste system is one aspect. But he also notes that the country through its history has had a tradition of accommodation towards others especially of religions. Muslims, Christians, Jews, Parsees were all allowed to live through a policy of ‘swikriti’ or equity of toleration. While he says that this was not any affirmation of equality it still meant acceptance of these groups. He also notes that even after over fifty years of independence, the political equality that was given to all the Indians under the Constitution has not still brought about social and economic equality. He notes that in addition to the fundamental rights the Indian Constitution specifies certain social and economic entitlements. Progress on these fronts should go towards greater equality. He also identifies the argumentative Indian tradition as a tool in the struggle towards greater equality. Voices of dissent and people and groups speaking against caste, class and gender barriers contribute in this area. He is of the view that political groups fighting for greater equality for the under privileged should be united in their fight if they need to make progress. Fighting among themselves would harm their goal. He also says that the recent trend towards increased religious and communal identities has resulted in increased sectarian...