Book Review of Amartya Sen's 'the Argumentative Indian'

Topics: Amartya Sen, India, Rabindranath Tagore Pages: 17 (5263 words) Published: March 23, 2009
Book Review of Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian

Aadya Singh
IIT Madras, India
February 2009


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Amartya Sen rewrites ‘The Argumentative Indian’
Report by Pagal Patrakar

Kolkata. Nobel laureate and leading thinker Professor Amartya Sen has rewritten his bestselling book ‘The Argumentative Indian’. Professor Sen has replaced the word ‘argumentative’ with ‘sensitive’ in deference to changing times. Professor Sen released the first copies of 'The Sensitive Indian' here in a modest function.

“We no longer are argumentative. Nobody seems to be interested in a dialogue or argument. People are just sensitive. They come, they see, they feel sensitive and act in a fashion that is driven by pure sentiments. Sentiments have replaced arguments.” Professor Sen explained his decision to re-write the book.

He claimed that India still enjoys intellectual pluralism, but this pluralism is no longer the result of interactions between differing thoughts; it is due to the emergence of ‘one-way sensitivities’. Professor Sen claims that such a scenario is not good, and Indians must get back to their argumentative ways.

“Instead of discussing important and vital issues, we are sweeping them under the carpet claiming it hurts our sentiments. None of the policies of yesteryears are being questioned, but they are all being defended in name of sentiments. Look around and you would understand.” Professor Sen averred.

To find out the truth, Faking News carried out a small survey through interviews of various people and discovered that most of the people agreed with Professor Amartya Sen’s views.

“Root causes of terrorism are not being discussed as it hurts the sentiments of a particular community. You can’t question caste based policies without hurting the sentiments of another community. Women can’t be given equal rights as it hurts the sensitivities of the larger society. Gunda politicians can’t be criticized as it hurts sentiments of his supporters. It’s crazy. Professor Sen is absolutely right.” said Ms. Nirula McDonalds, a sociologist.

Ms. Nirula claimed that Indians have deliberately made themselves ‘one-way sensitive’ as they can’t or don’t want to afford a two-way or spontaneous sensitivity, where they should be moved by tragedies or sufferings of fellow Indians. “They have created insular walls of sensitivities around them and choose when to become sensitive, which is one way sensitivity” Ms. Nirula explained.

“Arey bhai, the whole of India is running on sentiments. Stock markets fell due to sentiments, what better example do you want? Finance minister and Prime minister argue everything is okay, but sentiments are still down. Obviously sentiments matter more than arguments to Indians.” Small investor Ramesh Jhunjhunwala told Faking News.

Whatever be the truth, it would be interesting to see if the rewritten book by Professor Amartya Sen again proves to be a bestseller.


Of course, to believe the above article would be silly. But it cannot be denied that reading it would have left you questioning, at least for a minute, whether it could be true.

This article was discovered on a website running by the name of ‘Faking News’, purports to publish ‘Genuine fake news from India’, something perhaps on the lines of the It talks about the prominence of irrational decisions being made in today’s democracy, based on sentiments rather than reason. These sentiments are often flaunted in the name of religion, morality and tradition.

In The Argumentative Indian, Amartya Sen discusses exactly these domains of religion, morality and tradition, and how they connect to India’s long standing history of discursive practice.

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