Keep the mind open, Amartya Sen tells State

Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen on Tuesday urged the State to keep “’the mind open” to pursue the future with success, asserting that the State’s reliance on humanity, reasoning and public discussion were central assets which would serve it in good stead.

The possibility of expansion remains very strong for Kerala, partly because the mindset that focuses on humanity as opposed to physical assets is well-established in the State, Prof. Sen said, addressing online the concluding session of ‘Kerala Looks Ahead’ conclave organised by the State Planning Board.

“I would say that the successful use of humanity, the concentration of human reasoning, the particular focus on public discussion whereby we learn from each other and if there is a different view and then, we criticise each other for it – these are features that have been part of the Kerala economic strategy,” he said, adding that, personally, he was optimistic about the State’s plans for the future.

Looking ahead

Kerala was State that looked ahead long ago, he said, recalling the role of the labour movement, the anti-untouchability movement, the role of the missionaries and the Communist government that came to power in 1957 in fuelling the growth trajectory of the State.

There is no substitute to an inquiring mind, that has, as Rabindranath Tagore said, not been blocked, or free flows being choked, Prof. Sen said. “In Kerala, the free flow has not been choked, and I hope it will not be choked. But in order to pursue the future with the same success, and more than in the past, it needs to keep the mind open, to ask the question again and again – are we doing the right thing?” he said.

World beater

Prof. Sen also recalled his days at the Delhi School of Economics when his colleagues often countered his argument that Kerala would be “a world-beater” saying that he was blinded by political prejudice.

The three-day conclave, which covered sectors critical to the State’s future development, stimulated national and international discussions among scholars and experts, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said in his concluding remarks. The State government will examine the recommendations that had emerged and study how they can be incorporated into policy, he said.

The conclave featured 22 sessions on nine themes and three special sessions on local government, development financing and industry.

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