Western economies can learn from India: Amartya Sen

Oxford: At a time when several economies in the western world are facing severe crisis, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen believes that they can learn from countries such as India and China which are witnessing rapid economic growth.

Launching the Sanjaya Lall Visiting Professorship of Business and Development at the Said Business School of the University of Oxford, Sen said at a panel discussion last evening that there was much that the developing countries could contribute at the `level of ideas` to ongoing economic debates in the western world.

The Nelson Mandela Lecture Hall in the Said Business School was packed to capacity, including leading economists from Oxford, London and students.

The panel led by Sen included Martin Wolf of the Financial Times, and Robert Wade, professor of Political Economy and Development at the London School of Economics.

Stating that he was worried about the management of failing economies such as Greece, Sen said the main lesson to be learnt from the developing countries is the crucial link between growth and how it generates public revenue.

"I am concerned with what is happening in Europe. There are a few things that they can learn from the developing world; for example, the importance of growth in generating public revenue. Going straight at budget deficit cuts growth," he said, without mentioning the ongoing major public spending cuts in Britain to reduce budget deficit.

It was a reflection of the state of affairs, he said, that the dominant figures in public discourse in the west were not democratic figures but bankers.

Noting that Europe had done much to develop and further democratic norms in the last 300 years, Sen, however, said that at the current juncture in world history, the "mantle of democracy is now very much strongly held by India".

He reiterated India`s commitment to democracy and to implement economic measures within a democratic framework.

Lauding the work of Patna-born Sanjaya Lall in the field of economic and business, Sen said his impact on economics was "truly fantastic".

A prolific writer and research based at Oxford, Lall was considered one of the world`s foremost development economists.

The visiting professorship, awarded to Professor Wade, has been made possible by generous gift from the Sanjaya Lall Memorial Fund, whose trustees include Ramnique Lall and Lord Meghnad Desai.  The visiting professorship is for the period of one Oxford term; the holder is expected to deliver a public lecture and encouraged to contribute to other scholarly activities.