Namo vs Raga & Sen vs Bhagwati

Incase you have missed, the dust seems to be settling on the breathless media coverage on the riveting debate between 2 giants of the world of economics, Amartya Sen (Nobel Prize winner for economics) and Jagdish Bhagwati (economics professor at Columbia University and himself a nominee for the Nobel Prize several times). This debate is linked to the debate between Modi (Namo) vs R. Gandhi (Raga).

NaMo vs RaGa is centred around essentially two model of governances. The tremendous economic growth experienced by Gujarat led by manufacturing sector growth and ensuing prosperity (growth model) as against absymal growth achieved by the country as a whole in the last few years. Against this backdrop, grand social schemes (entitlements / dole model) have been announced by the Congress obstensibly to help the poor.

Its another matter that the governments own Planning Commission had recently announced that the proportion of poor to the total population had fallen drastically to ~ 21% but the National Food Security Bill (NFSB) envisages to include ~ 67% of the total population (75% of rural population and 50% of urban population) in its ambit. Plain arithmatic is more the quantum of doles, more the potential votes, whether the targeted recipient is actually deserves it is another matter.

So how do Sen & Bhagwati come in to the fray. This debate gained political overtones when Sen started peddling his economic model and openly supported the NFSB and debunked the economic model of the state of Gujarat and gave a big thumbs down to Modi and even went on to imply that minorities dont feel safe under his rule (as if he has done a survey !). Bhagwati on the other hand seems to prefer growth model over entitlement / dole model. He has given a thumbs up to the economic model of Gujarat and has mounted an attack on Sen and his entitlement model.

On the surface it may seem simply that Sen is only for entitlements and Bhagwati prefers only growth. However, a look deeper reveals both essentially stand for the same thing however their means differ with respect to the sequence. Sen is all for entitlements by the means of social welfare schemes to raise productivity which would consequently enhance growth whereas Bhagwati is all for growth first as it would raise enough resources (tax revenues) so as to implement social welfare schemes. 

Mint has this 

To sum up, both the heavyweights, Sen and Bhagwati, essentially agree on the need for growth and redistribution. The difference is the extent to which redistribution and growth are important in their scheme of things.

Midnightbreakfast feels in the backdrop of India’s weak economic fundamentals, it just cant afford more schemes of a grandiose nature. Good governance and only sound economic policies would ignite investments which would spur growth and help in alleviation of poverty as it has over the past few years.  


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