The Nobel Prize-winning economist delivered the Prospect/Joseph Rowntree Foundation anti-poverty lecture in front of an audience of several hundred peopleby Jonathan Derbyshire / January 23, 2014 / Leave a comment
Professor Amartya Sen with Prospect‘s editor Bronwen Maddox ©Sophia Schorr-Kon
Last night, Professor Amartya Sen, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, delivered the Prospect/Joseph Rowntree Foundation anti-poverty lecture in front of an audience of several hundred people at the London School of Economics, with many more watching the live stream online and following #LSEpoverty on Twitter.
Sen took as his title “Poverty and the Tolerance of the Intolerable”. No country in the world, he declared, is “free from poverty”, though in India, the country of his birth, where there is a “massive disparity between the privileged and the rest”, extreme deprivation is particularly deeply entrenched. India, he said, is an example of a country with a large middle class which is able to tolerate, with something approaching equanimity, the serious poverty in its midst. (Although the situation in India is extreme—Sen referred to the “special nature of the neglect of its poor” —there is no reason for those of us elsewhere in the world, especially the developed world, to be complacent. “Blaming the victims” of poverty, he observed, is as common today as it was in the era of the Poor Law.)
How is it, Sen asked, that a society is able to avert its gaze fr…