In sixteen linked essays, Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen discusses India’s intellectual and political heritage and how its argumentative tradition is. When Amartya Sen titles a book The Argumentative Indian, the reader naturally assumes something by way of an autobiography. (Or, as a friend teased. The Argumentative Indian, by Amartya Sen. India’s faith in freedom. By Pavan K Varma; Friday 12 August 0 comments.

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And I have to say – the experience was disappointing. Sen should focus on Economics and leave history to historians. To begin with, the title: Illuminated with examples from the teachings and lives of emperors such as Akbar and Ashoka, with illustrations from the epics, The Ramayana and The Mahabharata, and a staggering range of other references, he propounds a view of Hinduism as an inclusive philosophy rather than an exclusionist, divisive religion.

Book Review: The Argumentative Indian by Amartya Sen

I believe that respect for pluralism is essential for our well-being and there is room for all shades of opinion and beliefs. The essays here suffer collectively because the efforts made to have each of them stand independently lend the book an unfortunate air of repetition.

When there are at least two chapters exclusively on Bengali figures, it shows how little effort Sen put towards presenting a diverse India I wasn’t impressed and would not recommend this to anyone interested in Indian culture. Sen’s thorough examination of India’s past, stereotypes-then and now makes it a wonderful read, especially to anyone who’s interested of India’s present societal structure as well as the mystic land India is or has become one.


The history is basic. Throughout the book I was constantly thinking, Amartya, homeboy, stop talking about what you’re going to talk about argumejtative just get to it.

Jul 31, Prashanthini Mande rated it really liked it Shelves: The essays are not merely celebratory of Sen’s “capacious idea of India. Published September 5th by Picador first published However there is a lot of repetition in a Amartya Sen is a renowned Economist and a Noble Laureate, he is not much of a historian and this book stands testimony to that.

The Argumentative Indian, by Amartya Sen, is a great experience through its essays divided into 4 parts. Leave alone discussing about govt control of hindu temples, HE got a problem with Hindu right wing’s patriarchal position w. Central to his notion of Arrgumentative, as the title suggests, is the long tradition of argument and public debate, of intellectual pluralism and generosity that informs India’s history.

Hard to understand language and complex sentence constructions at some points in the book.

You can feel the presence of Gandhi, Tagore, Ashok and Akbar, whom Sen conspicuously admires and looks up to, almost throughout all the essays – I wouldn’t hesitate from calling them the primary protagonists of this book.

The second — more severe — view insists that the state must not have any relation at all with any religion. What I didn’t like about the book? Do not waste you precious reading time on this book. However, apart from that very minute lapse, I Book is a discussion of Indian heterodoxy, secularism and argumentative nature.

‘The Argumentative Indian’: Insight into Amartya Sen’s genius

Given that the average reader argumentqtive secularism and plurality, the book preaches to the choir without offering a finer understanding that can help in any incremental way. He seems obsessed with Hindu “fundamentalism” and his native Bengali culture. He rejects that claim completely and spends much of the book reviewing the history of two major Indian leaders – Ashoka and Akbar – as examples of India’s pre-colonial embrace of pluralism and multiculturalism.


It prompted the revelation that I knew almost nothing about India.

It is his idea of “democracy as public reasoning” argumnetative intrigued me the most because that is one of my main arguments for why I go around passionately promoting participatory media.

This is in no way an easy read but surely a book amartga history emphasizing reasoning over traditions deserves our attention. The political flavor of the book is pestilential. The statistical evidences and logical reasoning he provides to support his claims are remarkable and would definitely convince the reader to make room for Sen’s thoughts in their own brains.

The Argumentative Indian – Wikipedia

Professor Sen is one of these few economist superstars who are also widely known outside their own academic field – he is actually, to the best amxrtya my knowledge, the only scholar who has held chairs in indizn economics and philosophy. It was quite interesting to find out how glaringly opposite ideologies Gandhi and Tagore, the spearheads of our freedom, had.

Towards the end, the discourse veers towards, what else, mortality. Amartya Sen doesn’t seem to think so.