HT THIS DAY: October 15, 1998 — Amartya Sen bags Nobel for economics

'I am pleased that my subject has received recognition' The whole of India will revel in the award, says Vajpayee Mother recalls the time when her son survived oral cancer Stockholm. Philosopher-economist Amartya Sen of India won the Nobel Economics Prize today for his contribution to welfare economics, and in particular his research into the causes of famine and poverty, report agencies.
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Updated on Oct 15, 2021 02:00 PM IST
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  • 'I am pleased that my subject has received recognition'
  • The whole of India will revel in the award, says Vajpayee
  • Mother recalls the time when her son survived oral cancer

 

Stockholm. Philosopher-economist Amartya Sen of India won the Nobel Economics Prize today for his contribution to welfare economics, and in particular his research into the causes of famine and poverty, report agencies. 

Prof. Sen, 64, is the first Asian to win the coveted prize since it was inaugurated in 1969. 

In its citation, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which adjudged the prize said that Prof. Sen had made "several key contributions to the research on fundamental problems in welfare economics. His contributions range from axiomatic theory of social choice, over definitions of welfare and poverty indexes, to empirical studies of famine," it said. 

Economists described Sen as a leftwing Professor who nevertheless pursued an independent line, leading him, for example, to his Nobel-winning work on famine. Speaking to PTI from a New York hotel, Prof. Sen said he was “very pleased" to receive the award, particularly because the subject for which he had been honoured touched the lives of ordinary people. "What pleases me most is that the subject has received recognition," he said. 

Prof. Sen said he had been woken by an early morning telephone call to be told he had won the award. "I thought there was some emergency when the phone rang," he said. He had flown into New York late on Tuesday to deliver a lecture. 

Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee said the whole of India would revel in the award. "The country is proud of your achievement," Vajpayee said in a message, expressing his "profound sense of joy" at the news. 

 

The economics Nobel has been almost the private domain of American academics, with only the occasional win for their counterparts in Western Europe. For an Asian economist to be awarded the prize represents a radical departure for the Nobel Committee.

 

 From the start of his career, Prof. Sen showed a "particular interest in the most impoverished members of society," the academy said.

 

 He was born in Bengal in 1933 and received his doctorate from University of Cambridge in 1959. He has been a Professor in India, Britain and the United States. Currently a Professor at Trinity College, Cambridge, he is the first solo winner of the economics prize since 1995. 

Prof. Sen will be presented with a medal and a cheque for 7.6 million Swedish kronor (9,38,000 dollars) at an official ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the 102nd anniversary of the death of the creator of the prizes, Swedish inventor and industrialist Alfred Nobel. 

 

4TH CALCUTTAN TO WIN NOBEL: Calcutta today took pride at having its fourth Nobel laureate in Prof Sen after Rabindranath Tagore, Prof C. V. Raman and Mother Teresa, a report from Calcutta said. 

 

Prof Sen is the sixth Indian Nobel laureate and the country's first economist to win the coveted award. 

 

Since 1913 when Tagore won Nobel Prize for literature, it was another 17 years before physicist C. V. Raman, who based his research here, won the Nobel. 

 

In 1979, Albania-born Mother Teresa, who based her missionary activities in Calcutta bagged the Nobel for Peace. 

Now it is the turn of Prof Sen, who was initially educated in the city and conducted his basic research here. It was from Calcutta's premier Presidency College that Prof Sen graduated in 1953. From here, he went to Cambridge University for higher education and engaged in the study of welfare economics. 

 

SEN'S MOTHER STOICAL: After several nominations and refusals from the Royal Swedish Academy for Science, Prof. Sen's selection for the Nobel Prize has come as a surprise to his mother Amita Sen. "When he called me earlier in the day to give the news, I told him I am not going to discuss this with anyone unless I see it in the newspapers tomorrow. Bablu (Amartya's pet name) laughed and told me this time the news was real," she told PTI.

 

Asked with whom she would have liked to share this hour of joy, Amita said, "my husband. When he died in 1971, there already were talks of Bablu's chances of winning the Nobel."

 

On his deathbed, her husband had regretted not being able to survive long enough to see their son win the Nobel Prize, she said. 

 

Prof. Sen's mother said at the age 19, her son was diagnosed as having oral cancer and doctors gave him only five years to live. "It was then that I sent him to Cambridge for treatment."

 

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Tuesday, November 30, 2021