“Development as Freedom” is a book written by Amartya Kumar Sen, Indian economist. In 1998 the author was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics Science for his collective and successful contributions in the sphere of welfare economics and social choice theory. Most of his research focused on the regions of Africa and South Asia touching the issues of basic welfare. Sen devised methods of measuring poverty that yielded useful information for improving economic conditions for the poor. The author is especially famous for his empirical research on inequality and poverty, as well as for defining the field of development studies to include technical analysis.
In his work “Development as Freedom “ Sen investigates the relationship between freedom and development, the examples in which freedom is both a basic component of development in itself and an enabling issue to other aspects. Rather than the common focus on income and wealth, or on mental satisfaction (by utilitarian’s) or processes (by libertarians), Sen suggests a focus on what he calls capabilities — substantive human freedoms. He argues for a broad view of freedom, one that encompasses both processes and opportunities, and for recognition of “the heterogeneity of distinct components of freedom”.
The introduction part describes development which can be seen as a process of expanding the freedoms that people enjoy meaning that if freedom is what development is about then it makes sense to concentrate on that rather than on some of the means or instruments of achieving it. This approach is completely different from identifying development with the growth of GNP, rise in personal incomes, or industrialization, technological advance, or social modernization. The author agrees that these are important factors as well, but they are means and not ends.Sen stays that freedoms also depend on other determinants like social and economic arrangements, for example, education and health facilities, as well as political and civil rights. He also argues that freedoms are not only the primary ends of development, but also among its principal means.
According to the text, there are five distinct types of freedom, seen in this instrumental perspective: political freedoms, social opportunities, economic facilities, protective security and transparency guarantees.In the first chapter the author continues arguing that income deprivations and capability deprivations often appear correlated but it is important to avoid being mesmerized into thinking that taking note of the former would somehow tell us enough about the latter. Another argument brought by Sen is a tight connection between higher income and lower mortality rate. The author shows an example of African Americans compared to Chinese, Kerala etc, showing that the major influences here have social arrangements and community relations such as medical coverage, public health care, school education, law and order and prevalence of violence.The last topic being touched in this chapter is about markets and freedoms. The author brings forward two arguments in favor of the market mechanism which need to be separated out.
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