Do not rely on market economy for development, says Amartya Sen

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen launches a book titled `Locked Homes, Empty Schools: the Impact of Distress Seasonal Migration on the Rural Poor,' in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen launches a book titled `Locked Homes, Empty Schools: the Impact of Distress Seasonal Migration on the Rural Poor,' in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Photo: V. V. Krishnan

Staff Reporter

"Land reforms will help reduce distress migration"

NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Wednesday said market economy was here to stay but could not be relied upon for developmental tasks.

Releasing a book "Locked Homes, Empty Schools: The Impact of Distress Seasonal Migration on the Rural Poor" brought out by the American India Foundation (AIF) and publishing house Zubaan, Prof. Sen said the subject of the book was a special problem because it was widespread but not in the consciousness of the vast majority. But it was linked to a general problem, he added.

Prof. Sen said: "Distress seasonal migration was a combination of involuntary aspect, where people were being forced to move, as well as a voluntary element because people could move when they wanted to." Emphasising that migration in itself was not bad, he added that there was a need to create conditions where the opportunities for distress migration were reduced.

The Nobel laureate said the market economy would neither run the village hostel for children whose parents have to move out of their homes every year to make a living nor would they run schools for their children at the sites where they were employed.

Citing the example of Bangladesh, Prof. Sen said the availability of micro-credit was a result of people like Muhammad Yunus and institutions like Grameen Bank succeeding because of market economy but not by relying on it.

"The non-government organisations (NGOs) are market-friendly but do not rely upon the market," said Prof. Sen.

He further added that the miracle of Chinese growth after they adopted market economy could only be explained by the fact that they had implemented land reforms in the 1980s.

"If India could implement land reforms, spread education and extend healthcare to all, it will help positively on reducing distress migration," said Prof. Sen. He added that the good thing about Indian growth has been that it has tried to fulfil certain other commitments along with fast growth.

Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, said it was true that distress seasonal migration was largely an unnoticed problem.

He added that while there was a change in the thinking of the Planning Commission, there was a need to question if Government intervention alone would be enough to solve the problems of seasonal migrants.

"But the Government will have to pay more heed to these sectors rather than worry about running factories," said Dr. Ahluwalia.

Speaking about the book, which has photographs by Prashant Panjiar, author Smita said she could not imagine the sufferings of seasonal migrants until she visited those sites.

The book also has a special focus on the problems of migrant women and children who were often the worst sufferers and always at the receiving end of human rights violations.

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