The letter-writing in The Economist or even the Oped articles/interviews wouldnt have alerted us to the great Amartya Sen-Jagdish Bhagwati faceoff. As was to be expected in an intensely political country as ours, it was the positioning of Amartya Sen as the UPAs reigning deity that really set off things. Apart from the fact that Sen endorsed the UPAs flagship Food Security Billhe even spoke of children dying due to malnutrition while the Bill was delayedhe went and said he didnt think highly of the BJPs prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi, even challenging the Gujarat model of growth while championing the Bihar one.
While the BJP hasnt formally anointed Bhagwati as its presiding economist, by taking on Sen it has given the appearance it is pro-Bhagwati. It helps that the BJP is feting Bhagwatis co-author Arvind Panagariyatheir recent book slams the UPAs economic policies and debunks several theories the Congress hold dearly. Though the book doesnt plump for growth alone being the panacea for Indias problems, just as Sen doesnt trumpet only subsidieshe is actually pro-marketthe two have been bracketed as pro-BJP and pro-Congress. Ironically, this is at a time when many senior leaders in the BJP are pro-dole and many in the Congress believe growth is a far superior alternative to dole, indeed the only choice India has at the moment.