Amartya Kumar Sen, an Indian economist and philosopher who studied the causes of famines, will be recognized with this year’s Princess of Asturias award in the social sciences category, the Spanish foundation behind the prizes announced May 26.The 87-year-old Sen has devoted his career to studying poverty and theories of human development. His 1981 essay on “Entitlement and Deprivation” famously proved that the greatest famines in history took place when food was available but some groups couldn’t access it.
Sen’s theories on a person’s capacity, interacting with the concept of “positive freedom,” or absence of interference, have been incorporated into different social science disciplines and inspired U.N. development plans. Amartya Sen is Thomas W. Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy, at Harvard University and was until 2004 the Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. He is also Senior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Earlier on he was Professor of Economics at Jadavpur University Calcutta, the Delhi School of Economics, and the London School of Economics, and Drummond Professor of Political Economy at Oxford University.
Amartya Sen has served as President of the Econometric Society, the American Economic Association, the Indian Economic Association, and the International Economic Association. He was formerly Honorary President of OXFAM and is now its Honorary Advisor. His research has ranged over social choice theory, economic theory, ethics and political philosophy, welfare economics, theory of measurement, decision theory, development economics, public health, and gender studies. Amartya Sen’s books have been translated into more than thirty languages.
Amartya Sen’s awards include Bharat Ratna (India); Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur (France); the National Humanities Medal (USA); Ordem do MeritoCientifico (Brazil); Honorary Companion of Honour (UK); the Aztec Eagle (Mexico); the Edinburgh Medal (UK); the George Marshall Award (USA); the Eisenhower Medal (USA); and the Nobel Prize in Economics.“His entire intellectual career has contributed in a profound and effective way to promoting justice, freedom and democracy,” the Princess of Asturias award jury wrote in a statement.Sen won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998.
The 50,000-euro award ($61,000) is one of eight prizes, including in the arts, communications and sports, handed out annually by the Asturias Princess Foundation, which is named for Spanish Crown Princess Leonor. The awards are among the most prestigious in the Spanish-speaking world. An awards ceremony typically takes place in October in the northern Spanish city of Oviedo.