ABCDE 2011: Keynote address by Amartya Sen

An inspiring keynote address provided participants of the ABCDE 2011 event with great food for thought and set the tone for the discussions that will inform this year conference.

Amartya Sen (Harvard University) at the ABCDE 2011

Amartya Sen, Harvard University, at the ABCDE 2011

Professor Amartya Sen, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University and formerly Honorary President of OXFAM, focussed his speech on the issue of growth-mediated development. According to Mr. Sen, a rapid  economic growth can have positive effects on development and poverty reduction. It reduces public debt and deficit and can enhance living standards and quality of life of the people. However, this depends also very much on how public policies make effective of the surplus generated by economic growth.

According to Mr. Sen, there are different approaches of economic mediated growth. In this sense, China and India have been using the revenues of economic growth in different ways, with China making greater use of these revenues for development purposes.

Mr. Sen went on underlining the need to combine growth mediated development with democratic governance: the decisions about public policies need to emerge for a transparent, open debate, where the public is engaged in demanding justice and development. In India, there is public debate around economic policies but the level of engagement is still low and involves only a minority of Indian. It is therefore important to broaden the rhetoric of development so to make sure that the economic growth benefits an increasing percentage of the population.

Finally, Mr. Sen concluded his talk with few reflections on the economic crisis that is shaking Europe and its common currency. In his views, today’s Europe needs broad democratic public reasoning and growth mediated development; this experience will be valuable not only for Western countries but for developing countries as well.

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