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|January 18, 1999||
Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen gets Bharat Ratna
Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen has been awarded the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian honour in the land.
The decision was taken by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee today, official sources announced.
The economist, who is Master of Trinity College at Cambridge, won the Nobel Prize for economics last year.
Mother Teresa is the other Nobel Prize winner who was also honoured with the Bharat Ratna.
Missile scientist Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, the brain behind the second Pokhran nuclear blasts, was the other non-politician to be conferred the Bharat Ratna by the Vajpayee government in its 10 months in office so far.
Dr Sen, 64, was the sixth Indian to win the Nobel Prize and the first to get it for economics. He was awarded the prestigious prize for his contributions to welfare economics which have helped in understanding the economic mechanism underlying famines and poverty.
One of his greatest contributions is exposing the limitations of market economics, especially in dealing with poverty and deprivation.
Sen maintains that market growth alone cannot eradicate poverty and has to be backed up with public action.
Dr Sen was said to have been passed over for the Nobel Prize in earlier decades because of his opposition to the liberalisation of Thatcherism and Reaganomics.
His selection last year was a vindication for those who advocated more conservative policies in the wake of the collapse of the so-called tiger economies of South-East Asia.
But Sen clarified recently that he was never against the free market, but was only critical of the dogmatism of pro-market policies.
His being honoured with the Bharat Ratna at this juncture is significant because he has always viewed India as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual society. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government's decision to award him the Bharat Ratna comes as a snub to the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, which had accused him of being an agent of the 'Christian West'.
During a visit to India this month, the Nobel laureate once again championed the causes of transparency and literacy as keys to removing mass poverty in the country. He called for improved relations between India and Pakistan so that the peace dividend would release resources for development.
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