Fine im­print Amartya Sen's col­lec­tion of es­says pro­vides a del­i­cate un­der­stand­ing of con­tem­po­rary is­sues that haunt In­dia

Down to Earth - - BOOK - ANU­PAM SRI­VAS­TAVA


EX­CERPT THE SYS­TEM makes sure that some young peo­ple, out of a huge pool of the young, man­age to get priv­i­leged education. The pick­ing is done not through any or­ga­nized at­tempt to keep any­one out (in­deed, far from it) but through dif­fer­en­ti­a­tions that are driven by eco­nomic and so­cial in­equal­ity re­lated to class, gen­der, lo­ca­tion, and so­cial priv­i­lege. The priv­i­leged, to their credit, by and large do very well—they don't waste op­por­tu­ni­ties. Their well-earned suc­cess comes, first, in the ed­u­ca­tional es­tab­lish­ments them­selves, and then in the world at large, im­press­ing In­di­ans and for­eign­ers alike. The coun­try then cel­e­brates with aban­don the na­tion's tri­umphs . Fur­ther­more, not only do the first boys do well in life, they can also rel­ish— of course with be­com­ing mod­esty the homage they re­ceive for hav­ing done their coun­try proud . Mean­while, the last boys, and par­tic­u­larly the last girls, can't even read, not hav­ing the op­por­tu­nity of go­ing to a de­cent school—or any school at all. But even they, when they learn about the great ac­com­plish­ments of well-ed­u­cated In­di­ans, also cel­e­brate their achieve­ments and take pride in In­dia's suc­cess . So ev­ery­one, it ap­pears, is happy, and no one jumps up and down in anger.

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