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Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation

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The main focus of this book is on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The author develops the alternative method of analysis--the 'entitlement approach'--concentrating on ownership and exchange, not on food supply. The book also provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches used in econom The main focus of this book is on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The author develops the alternative method of analysis--the 'entitlement approach'--concentrating on ownership and exchange, not on food supply. The book also provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches used in economics, sociology, and political theory are critically examined. The predominance of distributional issues, including distribution between different occupation groups, links up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analyzing starvation.


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The main focus of this book is on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The author develops the alternative method of analysis--the 'entitlement approach'--concentrating on ownership and exchange, not on food supply. The book also provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches used in econom The main focus of this book is on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The author develops the alternative method of analysis--the 'entitlement approach'--concentrating on ownership and exchange, not on food supply. The book also provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches used in economics, sociology, and political theory are critically examined. The predominance of distributional issues, including distribution between different occupation groups, links up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analyzing starvation.

30 review for Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amit Mishra

    treatment of poverty by Amartya Sen is somewhat different than the usual definitions. His points are sharply focused on the causes and cures rather than the only counting symptoms of problems only. But in this book famine is considered as more fatal than the poverty. some historical record presents the same arguments too. And the opening lines of this book tells 'much about poverty is obvious enough' and it's true. there are so many talks about poverty and the possible redemption from these dise treatment of poverty by Amartya Sen is somewhat different than the usual definitions. His points are sharply focused on the causes and cures rather than the only counting symptoms of problems only. But in this book famine is considered as more fatal than the poverty. some historical record presents the same arguments too. And the opening lines of this book tells 'much about poverty is obvious enough' and it's true. there are so many talks about poverty and the possible redemption from these diseases. But in reality, the fundamental factors are still not well estabsh9de and the human race is not in a position to feed others. The approach of Prof. Sen has credibility and capability both.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Karn Satyarthi

    One rarely comes across a book that can legitimately claim to have redefined an entire area of study. Amartya Sen’s seminal essay on ‘Poverty and Famines’ is one such piece of work. The book questions all manners of conventional truth relating to famines and challenges our age old understanding of starvation and its determinants. The book was first published in 1981 and forms an important part of Amartya Sen’s oeuvre. The book under review is divided into ten chapters. The first five chapters foc One rarely comes across a book that can legitimately claim to have redefined an entire area of study. Amartya Sen’s seminal essay on ‘Poverty and Famines’ is one such piece of work. The book questions all manners of conventional truth relating to famines and challenges our age old understanding of starvation and its determinants. The book was first published in 1981 and forms an important part of Amartya Sen’s oeuvre. The book under review is divided into ten chapters. The first five chapters focus on developing an appropriate framework for the study of famines while the last five chapters focus on study of specific famines of the 20th century in Bengal, Ethiopia, the Sahel region of Africa and Bangladesh. The book does not require any special knowledge of Mathematics and Amartya Sen has himself declares that it is targeted at a general audience. However for professional Economists and more interested readers he has supplied three detailed Mathematical appendices towards the end of the book. The key to unlocking Sen’s ideas on the causal forces of a famine is the ‘entitlement approach’. Sen invokes the entitlement approach to severely attack the general paradigm then available for the analysis of famines, i.e. ‘Food Availability Decline (FAD)’ hypothesis. The FAD hypothesis essentially looked at famines as a macroeconomic problem and explains them assuming a decline in overall food availability at the level of regions or countries. The key indicator for this approach by corollary then is the per capita availability of food. Sen dismisses this idea with a little bit of contempt (strictly in an academic sense) and although he does not explicitly mention it, the reader does get an impression that he considers the FAD approach to be orientalist in its imagination. The entitlement approach as opposed to FAD is a microeconomic tool. The basic understanding of this approach is as follows, each individual has certain factors of production like labour, land and capital at her disposal. This individual can exchange her factors of production for a bundle of goods, eg an unskilled construction labourer exchanges his labour for wages or food. The set of all such bundles that an individual can exchange her factors of production for is called her entitlement map (e-map). The said individual will starve only when not even one of the bundles in her entitlement map contains sufficient quantity of food. When such a situation is replicated at the level of many individuals or communities, famines occur. Thus according to Sen a famine has nothing to do with per capita food availability. As an example we can bring up the case of the construction worker once again. Suppose due to a combination of factors the demand for construction depletes heavily in a particular state of the country, the unskilled worker will have no choice other than to look for alternative employment, till such time that she gets some other work her e-map will have no bundle with sufficient food (provided she receives no government support in the form of transfer payments and has no savings). Therefore a heavy fall in the demand of construction will bring about a famine despite the fact that the per capita food availability has remained the same. Sen through an expansive and breath-taking exercise in data analysis goes on to show that the actual per capita availability of food for Bengal was higher in 1943 than in 1941, as a matter of fact there was no famine in 1941. He does a similar analysis for other regions as well and invariably shows that all mass starvations had microeconomic causes and a decline in per capita food availability was not a major causal factor in even one of the cases. Sen’s conclusions are also a stricture to those who defend the British Raj’s economic policies (3-4 million people died of starvation but the 1943 disaster was never officially designated as a famine for then a food for work program would have to be initiated). The book does well to emphasize the fact that famines are highly unlikely to occur in countries with a stable democracy not because stable democracies are good at food production but because stable democracies are more accountable. To find a book of such technical abstraction to be also a robust defence of democracy is like a breath of fresh air. ‘Poverty and Famines’ is unique because it is one of few books that deal with complex economic issues and yet retain a degree of accessibility. The book is written in extremely lucid prose and the author has made no attempt to alienate the general reader. Through a work of outstanding merit Sen is able to inject a healthy dose of humanism in the increasingly mechanistic and experimental world of Economics. The book’s greatest achievement lies in dislodging the Malthus within us all. Amartya Sen reminds us that cursing population growth for inadequate food availability is not only morally reprehensible but also empirically unsustainable. Over the years ‘Poverty and Famines’ has gained a reputation of being a classic in the area of developmental economics and when seen in the context of Sen’s outstanding contribution to social choice theory is indeed a must read for anyone interested in the area of poverty alleviation. It is perhaps because of such obvious brilliance that Kenneth Arrow once called Amartya Sen a scholar of ‘unusually wide interests ‘ and the book ‘more provocative than it may at first seem’[1]. The book leaves us with interesting ideas on how to look at problems of poverty and hunger from the perspective of microeconomics. It gives a lot of food for thought for field level functionaries and administrators on innovative solutions to the problems hunger and destitution.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Shameema

    An excellent analysis of the politics of famines. There are some theoretical concepts discussed in the first 3 chapters and I greatly enjoyed reading those. I have not studied economics in an academic setting but I find Amartya Sen's books surprisingly easy to understand. perhaps it is how he writes, I sense a touch of humor here and there. There is a conversational quality to the way theories are discussed and debunked. Elaborate delibarations on poverty and deprivation is included here and I wi An excellent analysis of the politics of famines. There are some theoretical concepts discussed in the first 3 chapters and I greatly enjoyed reading those. I have not studied economics in an academic setting but I find Amartya Sen's books surprisingly easy to understand. perhaps it is how he writes, I sense a touch of humor here and there. There is a conversational quality to the way theories are discussed and debunked. Elaborate delibarations on poverty and deprivation is included here and I wish these were more widely circulated or perhaps made compulsory reads at high schools. Sometimes a little help is needed to ask these questions, to make the mind an inquisitive one, because the way we are indoctrinated in schools now, we grow up immune to things like poverty and injustice, even as concepts. I have gotten a little carried away here but there is a quote in this book from another economist who wrote"people must not become so poor they offend or are hurtful to society.We have a problem of poverty to the extent that low income creates problems for those who are not poor." Sen's comment on this is "to live in poverty may be sad but to offend or create problems for those who are not poor, it would appear is the real tragedy. it isn't easy to push much further the reduction of human beings into 'means'. " Amartya Sen will always be on the list of people who made me a better person.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Abhinav Anand

    The entitlement approach presented by Amartya Sen reads simple, but it is pathbreaking in any sense. The monograph is a critique of FAD (Food Availability Decline) analysis of famines. The hitherto approach of FAD fails to find the causation of starvation as per the author. On the face, food shortage appears to be the case of starvation, but a more in-depth look reveals severe problems leading to famine other than food decline. As one will read in the book, he/she will be taken through the famin The entitlement approach presented by Amartya Sen reads simple, but it is pathbreaking in any sense. The monograph is a critique of FAD (Food Availability Decline) analysis of famines. The hitherto approach of FAD fails to find the causation of starvation as per the author. On the face, food shortage appears to be the case of starvation, but a more in-depth look reveals severe problems leading to famine other than food decline. As one will read in the book, he/she will be taken through the famines across the world to make one understand the approach. A realisation that starvation can be without substantial food availability decline was difficult to assimilate but had to accept given the proofs.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Anny Khunger

    THROUGH THE VIEW POINT OF AMARTYA SEN ON POVERTY AND FAMINES. Famines are generally a term used to denote a sudden decline in the availability and absence of food which is usually caused by any form of natural disaster or crop failure. The food may be present in the surrounding areas but due to lack of transportation and other means, food remains inadequate for the people of any particular area. Therefore famines and starvation can be prevented if we consider to increase the food supply for the i THROUGH THE VIEW POINT OF AMARTYA SEN ON POVERTY AND FAMINES. Famines are generally a term used to denote a sudden decline in the availability and absence of food which is usually caused by any form of natural disaster or crop failure. The food may be present in the surrounding areas but due to lack of transportation and other means, food remains inadequate for the people of any particular area. Therefore famines and starvation can be prevented if we consider to increase the food supply for the increasing population growth and thus increasing the transportation facilities in the third world. The Amartya Sen in his monograph ‘Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation’ has analyzed and examined the cause of starvation in general and famines in particular. This work has been prepared mainly for World Employment Programme of International Labor Organization. In the book, Sen argued that contrary to conventional belief that the poverty and famines are fundamentally associated with food shortage, he examined, it is the social systems that determine how a society’s food is distributed. He further proposed that absolute scarcity meaning insufficient food to feed everyone is extraordinarily rare. Vastly more common is for an adequate supply of food to be beyond the reach of those who need it most. Sen advocates shifting our attention from questions of food availability to questions of distribution, or to the social systems that guide this distribution. “Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat." With this it is quite obvious but overlooked distinction. Sen begin his challenge to the Food availability decline view of the causes of famine. Famines cannot be explained by sudden food crises, for famines in occur in times of plentiful harvests and booming economic growth. Instead, famines must be explained by examining the relationship of people to food. Sen calls his alternative explanation of famines, poverty , starvation and famine take place within the economic and legal arrangements structuring different societies, and individuals entitlement under these arrangements determine their access to what food is available. Typically in market societies , individuals are entitled to whatever transfers of wealth the state provides in its social welfare programs. A person's ability to feed himself depends both on what he owns- his current bundle of entitlements and on what he can obtain by exchanging this entitlement bundle is not sufficient to allow him to command food. Thus a person may starve for reasons other than a general decline in food supply. There may be a sudden rise in food prices, so that his wage earnings are insufficient to purchase food. Or some economic change may affect his employment possibilities, leaving him without purchasing power. Land owners, sharecroppers, and wage laborers may be differently affected in times of famine according to their different relations to the mode of production in their society. For famine, on Sen's view is not merely a crisis of food supply; it is an economic disaster as well. The author also develops an alternative method of analysis—the ’entitlement approach’, which concentrates on ownership and exchange. “If one person in eight starves regularly in the world, this is the result of his inability to establish entitlement to enough food; the question of the physical availability of the food is not directly involved.” Sen has also examined the problems of conceptualization and measurement of poverty. Besides developing the underlying theory, the approach has also been used in a number of case studies of four devastating famines of recent decades including the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famines of 1973 and 1974, the Bangladesh famine of 1974, and the famines in the countries of the African Sahel in the 1970s, providing material with which policymakers can draw some beneficial conclusions. The predominance of distributional issues, including distribution between different occupational groups, links up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analyzing starvation. The book contains some technical economic analysis, but the text of the book has been kept as informal as possible, so that the text is accessible to the non‐technical reader, and the main lines of reasoning and their applications to the case studies are easily followed. Technicalities and mathematical reasoning are confined to the four appendices, which (1) present a formal analysis of the notion of exchange entitlement, (2) provide illustrative models of exchange entitlement, (3) examine the problem of poverty measurement, and (4) analyze the pattern of famine mortality based on the Bengal famine of 1943. The author has analyzed an entitlement relation applied to ownership connects one set of ownership to another through certain rules of legitimacy. It is a recursive relation and the process of connecting can be repeated. Consider a private ownership market economy. I own this loaf of bread. Why is this ownership accepted? Because I got it by exchange through paying some money I owned. Why is my ownership of that money accepted? Because I got it by selling a bamboo umbrella owned by me. Why is my ownership of the bamboo umbrella accepted? Because I made it with my own labor using some bamboo from my land. Why is my ownership of the land accepted? Because I inherited it from my father. Why is his ownership of that land accepted? And so on. Each link in this chain of entitlement relations ‘legitimizes’ one set of ownership by reference to another, or to some basic entitlement in the form of enjoying the fruits of one’s own labor.” The problem with this approach is that it focuses exclusively on legal or social entitlement – and thereby neglects many of the most powerful factors that determine how commodities are actually distributed. Sen is frank about the limits of his approach – but I worry he underestimates their importance. “While entitlement relations concentrate on rights within the given legal structure in that society, some transfers involved violation of these rights, such as looting or brigandage. When such extra-entitlement transfers are important, the entitlement approach to famines will be defective. On the other hand, most recent famines seem to have taken place in societies with ‘law and order’, without anything ‘illegal’ about the processes leading to starvation. ‘Poverty and Famine’s longest chapter concerns the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 in which Sen argues of its thoroughly class dependent character. The famine was largely the product, Sen argues, of Bengal’s war economy. Far from being the product of general impoverishment, “the 1943 famine can be described as a ‘boom famine’ related to powerful inflationary pressures initiated by public expenditure expansion.” Those involved in military and civilian defense works in the army, in industries and commerce stimulated by war activities and almost the entire normal population of Calcutta covered by distribution arrangements at subsidized prices could exercise strong demand pressures on food. While others excluded from this expansion or protection simply had to take the consequences of the rise in food prices. Sen's account had at least two important implications for policy. First narrow concern with the food availability has led to tragic mishandling of famines; Sen notes that Bengal famine initially failed even to be recognized because of the government's focus on aggregate food availability statistics. Perhaps a clearer and understanding the whole concept and the reasons behind the practices help us getting into the deeper aspects of famine and thus creates an understanding the aspects and applying these for the future needs to avoid famines and poverty. And therefore the future tragedies can be avoided. The concluding chapter of the book talks about how occupational pattern of destitution and famine mortality affected the different class of society of Bengal including fisherman, transport workers, agricultural and non-agricultural labor. Sen also mentioned regarding the diseases that took most of the toll, where famine acted as fuel to the fire and killed severals. For better explanation he also compared the mortality rates within the Bengal of famine and pre famine days. The book ends on this ringing note: “The law stands between food availability and food entitlement. Starvation deaths can reflect legality with a vengeance.” However, Sen’s entitlement approach gives him no way to incorporate this attitude into his formal analyses. Sen Book’s moral power comes from his belief that our legal economic framework neglects the most important form of entitlement – emphasizing, as it does, property rights over human life. But this conviction, which is the book’s heart and soul, plays little part in its economics – in which “entitlement” refers to the legal mechanisms that are the very source of the mass starvation Sen’s humanity revolts against. I wish that, having established his approach, Sen had moved beyond it to examine the forces that create the social framework he is operating within. Thus working together on a book which widened our thoughts on poverty and famines, helped us to know the thoughts of an author regarding the issue and was really helpful in understanding the concept. The book we have selected seemed interesting of the topic he wants to convey and therefore poverty have always been a topic of attraction for the readers. Thus it is also a part of our curriculum and interest towards the topic which made us study this. TERI SCHOOL OF ADVANCED STUDIES GROUP NO:- 28 GROUP MEMBERS:- 1. ANNY KHUNGER 2. SHRADDHA VERMA 3. VIVEK BHARDWAJ 4. AKONKWA KAHASHA PASCAL 5. KHALID MOHAMED ADAM MOHAMED

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mrigakshi

    The book Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), mainly focus on causation of starvation and Famine in Particular. The book provides a general analysis of characterization and measurement of poverty. Sen has critically examined the various approaches that are being used in economics, sociology and political economy. The book contains technical economic analysis that includes, presenting formal analysis of exchange entitlements, illustrating models, examining problem The book Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation (1981), mainly focus on causation of starvation and Famine in Particular. The book provides a general analysis of characterization and measurement of poverty. Sen has critically examined the various approaches that are being used in economics, sociology and political economy. The book contains technical economic analysis that includes, presenting formal analysis of exchange entitlements, illustrating models, examining problem of poverty and analyzing the pattern of famine mortality based on Bengal famine. According to Sen in many cases of famine, food supplies were not significantly reduced, but a number of social and economic factors like declining wages, unemployment, rising food prices, harvest failures, reductions in food imports, droughts, and most importantly the society’s food distribution system are the contributing factors and to prove this Sen has given various Empirical evidences and theories. Sen believes that absolute scarcity is an extraordinarily rare event. The major problem according to him lies in the distribution of food adequately amongst the population contrary to the conventional belief whose primary focus was on the food supplies. He advocates that our premier focus should be on the working of the food distribution system. He wants that people should divert their attention from the questions of food availability to questions of distribution, or to the social and political system that guides this distribution. He quotes “If one person in eight starves regularly in the world, this is… the result of his inability to establish entitlement to enough food; the question of the physical availability of the food is not directly involved.” Sen uses entitlement approach-concentrating on ownership and exchange not on food supply. Aside from developing the underlying theory, he uses this approach in a number of case studies of recent famines, including the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famines of 1973 and 1974, the Bangladesh famine of 1974, and the famines in the countries of the African Sahel in the 1970s. Sen attempts to challenge the view that Famine was caused by the food availability decline. He quotes ”An entitlement relation applied to ownership connects one set of ownerships to another through certain rules of legitimacy. It is a recursive relation and the process of connecting can be repeated. “ The approach involves a study of entitlement systems, based on Sen’s thesis that starvation statements are about the relationship of persons to the commodity of food, rather than about the food supply per se. Starvation statements translate readily into statements about ownership of food, and ownership relations are one kind of entitlement relations. Sen begins by discussing the problems in the measurement and characterization of poverty. There are two requirements as identified by him (1) a method of identifying a group of people as poor (identification) (2) a method of aggregating the characteristics of the set of poor people into an overall image of poverty (aggregation). He focuses on a number of approaches as a foundation for the above excercises These include the biological i.e minimum nutritional requirement approach and inequality approaches to poverty, the concept of relative deprivation, value judgement, common standards for comparisons between communities, and the relative scaling of deprivation as a means of aggregation. He addresses the issue of the definition of poverty in terms of the characteristics of food commodities, identifying the poor directly or according to income, the definition of family size in terms of equivalent adults and relative deprivation. Then he analyses the specific problem of starvation and famines in general terms. Although in his book he didn’t define famines but has used various definitions and related terms. He has used starvation in the sense that people are going without food and famines as the manifestation of it causing widespread deaths. Firstly he compares and contrasts starvation and famines and then he outlines their relationship to poverty. They are then analyzed in terms of temporal variation and distributional variation in food availability and consumption. Entitlement approach to starvation and famines- This approach concentrates on the ability of people to command food through the use of the legal means available in society. Sen includes the use of production possibilities, trade opportunities and other methods of acquiring food. He also discusses the limitations of the entitlement approach and direct and trade entitlement failures. The limitation to this approach is that it focuses mainly on the legal or social entitlement – and neglects many of the most powerful factors which determine how the commodities are actually being distributed. This set of entitlement relations is going to come to an end either sooner or later. Sen has been very frank about the limits of his approach . He says that while entitlement relations concentrate on rights within the given legal structure in that society, there are some transfers which includes violation of these rights, such as looting or brigandage. When such extra-entitlement transfers are considered to be important, the entitlement approach to famines will also be defective. But ,what has been observed is that most of the recent famines that have taken place in societies with ‘law and order’, without anything ‘illegal’ about the processes leading to starvation. His approach to some extent ignores the extent to which ‘law and order’ can be an active method of resource appropriation. In his book it can been seen that ‘Law and order’ implicitly is nothing more than the framework within which distribution takes place.. The longest chapter of the book Poverty and Famines analyses and articulates the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 which had a death toll of 1.5 million. Sen argues, that the famine was the product of Bengal’s war economy rather than being the product of general impoverishment He quotes “the 1943 famine can be described as a ‘boom famine’ related to powerful inflationary pressures initiated by public expenditure expansion.” According to him the people who were involved in defence and in the industries stimulated by war activities, and almost the entire normal population of Calcutta covered by distribution arrangements at subsidized prices could have exercised strong demand pressures on food, while there were others who were excluded from this expansion or protection who simply had to take the consequences of the rise in food prices. Sen’s perspective is a powerful corrective to the official line on the famine’s causes. The Famine Commission viewed that the premier cause of the famine was a serious shortage in the total supply of rice available for consumption in Bengal. Sen refutes this idea. He also criticizes the official policy for the failure to tackling the famine. Though his approach could provide only an aspect of a comprehensive analysis of causes of famine and deprivations. Next he considers a case study of the Ethiopian Famine of 1972–74, which had a death toll of between 50, 000 and 200, 000 in a population of about 27 million. Again he rejects the analysis of this famine in terms of food availability decline. He only acknowledges the situation in the province of Wollo, which he discusses in terms of possible transport or entitlement constraints. He analyses the occupational status of the victims in Wollo and identifies and discusses the most susceptible groups—the nomadic pastoralists and the agriculturalist. A case study of the drought of 1968–73, and the famines of the 1970s in the in the six West African countries of Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Upper Volta, Niger, and Chad has also been discussed by him. Again the same approach is followed by him and the food availability decline being responsible for this has been refuted. He identified the most susceptible - the nomadic pastoralists and the sedentary agriculturalists. At last he considers a case study of the 1974 famine in Bangladesh, which was associated with the floods of that year, and had an official mortality of 26,000. Food availability decline is shown to offer very little way of explanation of the famine, although the general food shortage resulting from low food imports and government food stocks is identified as a constraint in government relief operations. Those who suffered the worst were laborers. The exchange entitlement of the laborers has been found by Sen to offer better explanation to the famine. Sen concludes by saying that the entitlement approach is being able to explain the causation of starvation and famine far better than the conventional approach of food availability decline. Sen’ s approach provide s a more comprehensive analysis of the causes of famine and deprivation. Sen has moved beyond the conventional aspects to examine the forces that create poverty and diverts the attention of readers towards the problem of inequitable distribution of the available food. The book was able to influence many of the Government and International organizations that were handling food crises. His views made the policy maker to Pay attention in finding ways to recover the lost income of poor in accordance with alleviating the immediate sufferings.one can learn from this book that the solution to tackle the poverty situations require a lot of political courage at all the levels of government and people cooperation. Group: G-41 (Msc Economics) course:Introduction to Sustainable Development 1. Mrigakshi Tandon 2. Debanjali Dasgupta 3. Megha Kapoor 4. Himani Jain TERI School of Advanced Studies

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diti Mathew

    GROUP NO: 37,MSc Climate science and policy ,(group members- Tulip Kumar Das, Soham Banerjee, Bhavya Bhatra, Shikita Gupta, Pritha Chakraborty, Diti Manoj Mathew) The book "Poverty and Famines " written by Amartya Sen focuses on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The analysis of famines concentrates on food supply. He says, that to get a deeper notion about the concept of poverty we need to look further from just understanding and identifying the poor. The autho GROUP NO: 37,MSc Climate science and policy ,(group members- Tulip Kumar Das, Soham Banerjee, Bhavya Bhatra, Shikita Gupta, Pritha Chakraborty, Diti Manoj Mathew) The book "Poverty and Famines " written by Amartya Sen focuses on the causation of starvation in general and of famines in particular. The analysis of famines concentrates on food supply. He says, that to get a deeper notion about the concept of poverty we need to look further from just understanding and identifying the poor. The author develops an alternative method of analysis- the 'entitlement approach', which concentrates on ownership and exchange. This approach is used in a number of case studies. This book provides a general analysis of the characterization and measurement of poverty. Various approaches examined in economics, sociology and political theory. The predominance of distributional issues, including distribution between different occupational groups, link up the problem of conceptualizing poverty with that of analysing starvation. The author of this book describe some technical economic analysis. Technicalities and mathematical reasoning are confined to the four appendices which 1. present a formal analysis of the notion of exchange entitlement, 2. provide illustrative models of exchange entitlement, 3. examine the problem of poverty measurement, 4. analyse the pattern of Famine mortality based on the Bengal Famine of 1943. In Amartya Sen writes about mankind’s most crippling topic, which is poverty and famine. Not only does he talk about it, he also goes ahead and deconstructs the mainstream definition of famines. He argues that famines aren’t only a shortage of food caused due to natural disasters, it is rather in his own words, “..is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there being not enough food to eat. While the latter can be a cause of the former, it is but one of many possible causes.” He says, famines cannot be explained by a sudden food crisis, for famines have occurred also during times of plentiful harvests and booming economic growth. Generally the countries that receive frequent hunger are blamed, and one reason pointed out is of growth of population. To support his stance he presents forth the concept of “entitlement approach”, which is his alternative view of famines. He states, “A person's ability to avoid starvation will depend both on his ownership and on the exchange entitlement mapping that he faces. A general decline in food supply may indeed cause him to be exposed to hunger through a rise in food prices with an unfavourable impact on his exchange entitlement. Even when his starvation is caused by food shortage in this way, his immediate reason for starvation will be the decline in his exchange entitlement.” He lays emphasis on the fact that the decline in food is not always due to crop failure, it might also be due to the economy. Hence his naming of famine as “economic disaster”. Factors like sudden rise in food prices, or wages falling short to purchase food, or some changes in the economic fabric. Sen argues that narrow concern with food availability has caused us to not understand famines in more detailed form. Secondly, he says understanding famines as economic mishaps; they can be prevented by changing the pattern of legal and economic entitlements that cause them to occur, which can be documented in this quote, "Droughts may not be avoidable, but their effects may be". Finally Sen states, “The law stands between food availability and food entitlement."It is the law that must be changed if poverty, starvation, and famine are ever to be eliminated. The book is an analytical one where Sen has applied his analysis to the four major famines: The Great Bengal famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famine that occurred in 1972-74, the drought and famine that occurred in the African Sahel in the early 19705, and the famine in Bangladesh in 1974. He has analysed all four of these famines through the food availability decline hypothesis which he has shown to be non explanatory for all the cases. For example, his analysis has revealed that during Bengal famine in 1943, the sharecroppers did not starve but it was the laborers who starved despite adequate rice harvest because their low wages could not cope up with the increase in price of rice in the inflationary war economy. Similarly, during Bangladesh famine, it was the laborers who starved not because the rice crop was ruined because of the floods but because the employment opportunities were reduced as a consequence of flood. Sen has also applied similar analysis to the Wallo-Province during Ethiopian famine where drought caused not only a reduction in food supply but more predominantly it reduced the ability of the province to draw food from the rest of Ethiopia. Through these four of the major devastating famines that have occurred in recent decades, Sen has tried to defend his alternative approach on famines, and explains that the Bengal famine was initially failed to be recognized because the government focussed on the food availability statistics. He also gives an alternative approach that sees famines as economic disasters whose effects can be reduced rather than seeing famines as natural disasters for which nothing much can be done. The writer’s main focus highlighted by his work is the cause of starvation and the role of food supply in causing both famines and starvation. The fundamental approach used by the author is an alternative method of analysis – The entitlement approach which states a very vital relationship between ownership & exchange. The main issue highlighted is the predominance of distributional issues. The writer incorporated various approaches including economics, sociology and political theory, all of which are critically examined. The book contains some technical analysis and mathematical reasoning which are confined to the four appendices: 1. Formal analysis of exchange entitlement 2. Illustrative models of exchange entitlement 3. Examination of poverty measurement problems 4. Analysis of the pattern of famine mortality based on Bengal Famines of 1943 Although various intellectual models, theories, & analysis were incorporated but the text of the book has been kept as informal as possible& even the case studies are easily followed. The writer did a very good job highlighting the fact that developing countries like India & Africa suffer from Hunger, starvation, poverty & famines not only because of its increased population but distributional issues & supply & transportation of food & resources have a major role as well. If all these issues are handled in a pre planned manner then poverty, hunger & famines will be dealt easily. Yet this approach highlights mainly the legal as well as the social entitlements, which further neglects the main factors that determine how commodities are distributed. Amartya Sen in his book Poverty and Famines gives a different perspective for Famines or Mass Starvation. Though in his first chapter he says “Starvation is a characteristics of some people not having enough food to eat. But Sen’s investigation leads him to the startling discovery that in several major recent famines, which killed vast numbers of people, the supply of food did not decline or declined only slightly. The statement ‘mass starvation often occurs without any reduction in food supply’ is startling enough, but it is slightly less startling than the statement ‘famines often occur without any reduction in food supply,’ because reduction in food supply is built into the concept of famine. In other words, Sen’s discovery really amounts to saying that many recent episodes of mass starvation, like the Great Bengal Famine, should not properly be called famines. In Sen’s scheme, starvation has nothing directly to do with food supply: it is a matter of whether people can acquire command over food. The command often changes when there is price rise in the food products. But even more important Sen says that famines are natural disasters that nobody can do very much about but can be avoided by the changing the economic entitlement that cause them to occur. At the end he talks about the judiciary and how laws are the possible solutions for mitigating famines and mass starvation.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Kristoffer

    Important, beautifully structured, and extremely well-argued - social science at its best.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Aishwarya

    G-1 (Aishwarya, Aditi, Abhishek, Ayat, Anuradha, Apoorva) Famines are caused by a sudden decline in the availability of food, usually caused by crop failure from drought, flood, or some other natural disaster. Food may be available in neighboring regions, of course, but local transportation systems are often inadequate for shipping food where it is most needed. Famines and world starvation generally can be prevented by increasing world food supply to meet population growth and by improving transp G-1 (Aishwarya, Aditi, Abhishek, Ayat, Anuradha, Apoorva) Famines are caused by a sudden decline in the availability of food, usually caused by crop failure from drought, flood, or some other natural disaster. Food may be available in neighboring regions, of course, but local transportation systems are often inadequate for shipping food where it is most needed. Famines and world starvation generally can be prevented by increasing world food supply to meet population growth and by improving transportation in the Third World. This prevalent view of famines is carefully and thoughtfully dismantled by Amartya Sen in the Poverty and Famines.Sen has described it through four famines in hostory around the world. Starvation is the characteristic of some people not having enough food to eat. It is not the characteristic of there not being enough food to eat." With this seemingly obvious but widely overlooked distinction, Sen begins his challenge to the Food Availability Decline view of the causes of famine. Famines cannot be explained by a sudden food crisis, because famines have occurred in times of plentiful harvests and booming economic growth. Instead, famines must be explained by examining the relationship of people to food. Sen calls his alternative explanation of famines "the entitlement approach." Poverty, starvation, and famine take place within the economic and legal arrangements structuring different societies, and individuals' entitlements under these arrangements determine their access to what food is available. Sen explains that a person may starve for reasons other than a general decline in food supply. There may be a sudden rise in food prices, so that his wage earnings are insufficient to purchase food. Or some economic change may affect his employment possibilities, leaving him without purchasing power. Land-owners, sharecroppers, and wage laborers may be differently affected in times of famine according to their different relations to the modes of production in their society. For famine, on Sen's view, is not merely a crisis of food supply; it is an economic disaster as well. Sen applies his analysis to four famines: the Great Bengal Famine of 1943, the Ethiopian famine of 1972-74, the drought and famine in the African Sahel in the early 19705, and the 1974 fam ine in Bangladesh. For each case he shows the Food Availability Decline hypothesis to be incorrect or, at best, non-explanatory. Sen's analysis reveals, for example, that crop availability was far from disastrous in Bengal in 1943. In a year of adequate rice harvests, millions starved because an inflationary war economy drastically drove up the price of rice without correspondingly spurring agricultural wages. Sharecroppers did not starve, but wage laborers did- because their wages could no longer purchase them food. Likewise, laborers starved in the Bangladesh famine, not because floods ruined the rice crop, but because floods devastated employment opportunities during the peak cultivation season. In the Ethiopian famine, drought in the Wallo province did crucially reduce food supply, but more importantly, it reduced that province's ability to draw in food from the rest of Ethiopia. He denies the belief that famines are natural disasters that no one can do very much about. By analyzing famines as economic disasters, he shows that they can be prevented or alleviated by changing the pattern of legal and economic entitlements that cause them to occur. "Droughts may not be avoidable, but their effects may be." Sen points out briefly but provocatively that the rich developed countries have avoided famines not because of their high aggregate or average wealth, but because established social welfare arrangements keep people from falling below the minimum in times of economic hardship. Sen asserts that it is legal and economic institutions that determine whether or not a drought or flood will cause millions to starve. "The law stands between food availability and food entitlement." It is the law that must be changed if poverty, starvation, and famine are ever to be eliminated.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Akriti

    Amartya Sen in his book 'poverty and famine' argues that, contrary to conventional belief, most famines aren’t created by food shortages. Harvest failures, reductions in food imports, droughts, etc, are often contributing factors – but far more important are the social systems that determine how a society’s food is distributed. Absolute scarcity – insufficient food to feed everyone – is extraordinarily rare. Vastly more common is for an adequate supply of food to be beyond the reach of those who Amartya Sen in his book 'poverty and famine' argues that, contrary to conventional belief, most famines aren’t created by food shortages. Harvest failures, reductions in food imports, droughts, etc, are often contributing factors – but far more important are the social systems that determine how a society’s food is distributed. Absolute scarcity – insufficient food to feed everyone – is extraordinarily rare. Vastly more common is for an adequate supply of food to be beyond the reach of those who need it most. Sen advocates shifting our attention from questions of food availability to questions of distribution, or to the social systems that guide this distribution. In the very start of his book, he talks about the entitlement approach. ”An entitlement relation applied to ownership connects one set of ownerships to another through certain rules of legitimacy. It is a recursive relation and the process of connecting can be repeated. Consider a private ownership market economy. I own this loaf of bread. Why is this ownership accepted? Because I got it by exchange through paying some money I owned. Why is my ownership of that money accepted? Because I got it by selling a bamboo umbrella owned by me. Why is my ownership of the bamboo umbrella accepted? Because I made it with my own labour using some bamboo from my land. Why is my ownership of the land accepted? Because I inherited it from my father. Why is his ownership of that land accepted? And so on. Each link in this chain of entitlement relations ‘legitimizes’ one set of ownership by reference to another, or to some basic entitlement in the form of enjoying the fruits of one’s own labour.” But the problem with this approach is that it focuses exclusively on legal or social entitlement – and thereby neglects many of the most powerful factors that determine how commodities are actually distributed. ‘Poverty and Famine’s longest chapter concerns the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 . The famine was largely the product, Sen argues, of Bengal’s war economy. Far from being the product of general impoverishment, “the 1943 famine can be described as a ‘boom famine’ related to powerful inflationary pressures initiated by public expenditure expansion.” “Those involved in military and civilian defence works, in the army, in industries and commerce stimulated by war activities, and almost the entire normal population of Calcutta covered by distribution arrangements at subsidized prices could exercise strong demand pressures on food, while others excluded from this expansion or protection simply had to take the consequences of the rise in food prices.” The book ends on this ringing note: “The law stands between food availability and food entitlement. Starvation deaths can reflect legality with a vengeance. Sen’s book’s moral power comes from his belief that our legal economic framework neglects the most important form of entitlement – emphasising, as it does, property rights over human life. But this conviction, which is the book’s heart and soul, plays little part in its economics – in which “entitlement” refers to the legal mechanisms that are the very source of the mass starvation Sen’s humanity revolts against. The treatment of poverty by Amartya Sen is somewhat different than the usual definitions. His points are sharply focused on the causes and cures rather than the only counting symptoms of problems only. But in this book famine is considered as more fatal than the poverty. some historical record presents the same arguments too. And the opening lines of this book tells 'much about poverty is obvious enough' and it's true. there are so many talks about poverty and the possible redemption from these diseases. But in reality, the fundamental factors are still not well established and the human race is not in a position to feed others. The approach of Prof. Sen has credibility and capability both. Tavisha Dua Tarul Jain Yashi Group :- G43

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ted Tyler

    Phenomenal book that I think everyone should consider reading. Professor Sen attacks the notion that modern famine is caused by a decline in food availability. He empirically shows that famine has other causal mechanisms entirely. His framework of "entitlement deprivation" provides a general structure through which to analyze famines. The author clearly and concisely maps out the relationships between individuals and their methods of obtaining food. Specific causes such as regional weather chang Phenomenal book that I think everyone should consider reading. Professor Sen attacks the notion that modern famine is caused by a decline in food availability. He empirically shows that famine has other causal mechanisms entirely. His framework of "entitlement deprivation" provides a general structure through which to analyze famines. The author clearly and concisely maps out the relationships between individuals and their methods of obtaining food. Specific causes such as regional weather changes, government policy, economic shocks, and the outbreak of war are the primary factors that cause famine. His framework allows for analysts to look at the various relationships and then choose a specific factor or combination of factors to explain causation.

  12. 5 out of 5

    hans

    Sen zeigt, dass Hungersnöte eigentlich nie ausreichend durch einen Rückgang an verfügbaren Nahrungsmitteln in einer Gesellschaft erklärt werden kann. In mehreren Fallstudien macht er deutlich, dass man zunächst genau betrachten muss, wer eigentlich hungert (und wer nicht). Während einer Hungersnot verringern sich die Anspruchsrechte (Kaufkraft, selbstproduzierte Nahrung, staatliche Zuwendungen) der hungernden Bevölkerung auf Nahrung. Das kann auch passieren, wenn die in einer Gesellschaft verfüg Sen zeigt, dass Hungersnöte eigentlich nie ausreichend durch einen Rückgang an verfügbaren Nahrungsmitteln in einer Gesellschaft erklärt werden kann. In mehreren Fallstudien macht er deutlich, dass man zunächst genau betrachten muss, wer eigentlich hungert (und wer nicht). Während einer Hungersnot verringern sich die Anspruchsrechte (Kaufkraft, selbstproduzierte Nahrung, staatliche Zuwendungen) der hungernden Bevölkerung auf Nahrung. Das kann auch passieren, wenn die in einer Gesellschaft verfügbaren Nahrungsmittel nicht sinken oder sogar steigen. Implizit ist das Buch auch eine Kritik an einer Wirtschaftstheorie, die alle Menschen gleich behandelt und blind für soziale Unterschiede ist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Agoes

    Buku ini isinya menjelaskan bahwa kelaparan bukan semata-mata disebabkan karena makanannya tidak ada (kurang ketersediaan bahan pangan), tetapi juga karena hilangnya kemampuan seseorang untuk memperoleh makanan tersebut (kehilangan pekerjaan, kehilangan kemampuan, dll). Ceritanya baca essay yang sebenarnya udah lama diterbitkan ini karena situasinya lagi COVID-19 dan kemarin membaca berita tentang ibu Yulie yang meninggal karena kelaparan. Reviewnya dilanjutkan di blog: https://katasiagoes.wordpres Buku ini isinya menjelaskan bahwa kelaparan bukan semata-mata disebabkan karena makanannya tidak ada (kurang ketersediaan bahan pangan), tetapi juga karena hilangnya kemampuan seseorang untuk memperoleh makanan tersebut (kehilangan pekerjaan, kehilangan kemampuan, dll). Ceritanya baca essay yang sebenarnya udah lama diterbitkan ini karena situasinya lagi COVID-19 dan kemarin membaca berita tentang ibu Yulie yang meninggal karena kelaparan. Reviewnya dilanjutkan di blog: https://katasiagoes.wordpress.com/202...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gaurav

    Prof Sen has done a tremendous job by explaining the complexities of poverty with lots of data and examples. He has done a research on famines and poverty of a longer period. He has visited multiple locations and collected the first-hand data as well. A nice book to understand the concept of poverty in detail.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nirupma

    The book is a treatise on the famines occurred in India and their aftermaths.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Devin Creed

    Everything I want an economics book to be.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amit Khurana

    A nice book to understand the conditions of poverty.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Philip

    Such a simple argument. If famines were caused by a shortage of food, then why doesn´t everyone starve?

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tânia

    O estudo das grandes fomes tem-se pautado pela abordagem do declínio da disponibilidade alimentar, que se baseia na análise agregada da disponibilidade de alimentos dentro de um determinado território e da respetiva oferta per capita como indicador para explicar a ocorrência de carências alimentares, em geral, e de fomes, em particular. Esta visão é refutada pelo economista Amartya Sen que introduz uma abordagem baseada no sistema de concessão de direitos, redirecionando o foco de análise para a O estudo das grandes fomes tem-se pautado pela abordagem do declínio da disponibilidade alimentar, que se baseia na análise agregada da disponibilidade de alimentos dentro de um determinado território e da respetiva oferta per capita como indicador para explicar a ocorrência de carências alimentares, em geral, e de fomes, em particular. Esta visão é refutada pelo economista Amartya Sen que introduz uma abordagem baseada no sistema de concessão de direitos, redirecionando o foco de análise para a capacidade de o indivíduo dispor de alimentos através de meios legais (produção, troca comercial, etc.). A abordagem em termos de concessão de direitos tem como pressuposto que o indivíduo é dotado de fatores de produção (trabalho, terra e capital) que pode trocar por bens alimentares para satisfazer as suas necessidades nutricionais. A fome ocorre, segundo esta perspetiva, nos momentos de desgaste dos direitos individuais, os quais podem ser motivados por diversos fatores, como o declínio da disponibilidade alimentar, mas também a inflação, o desemprego, cortes nos rendimentos, etc. Assim, a análise das causas das falhas na concessão de direitos surge como ponto central para a compreensão da fome e respetivas dinâmicas sociais (mais do que saber a proporção de população com carências alimentares, deve-se olhar para o seu retrato socioeconómico). A hipótese proposta por Sen é testada nos quatro casos empíricos apresentados no livro - as fomes de Bengala (1943), da Etiópia (1973-1974), do Bangladesh (1974) e dos países do Sael (anos 70) -, que são acompanhados de um extenso relatório sobre a evolução da fome, o seu impacto e possíveis causas. Embora por vezes desafiante, esta é uma leitura que se pretende acessível para uma larga audiência, deixando a componente mais técnica da monografia remetida aos apêndices. O autor fez um excelente trabalho ao acompanhar os dados de explicações claras e concisas que desvendam o raciocínio por detrás do argumento.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Owain

    A damning attack on free-market capitalism. This book deals with the economics of food distribution during famines and looks at the most famous famines of the latter part of the last century. Sen reaches no specific conclusion on what should be done to ameliorate the poor distribution of a common and vital resource under capitalism. Sen describes how there is a tradition of famine-stricken countries containing enough food to adequately feed the populace and sometimes even enough to be exporting s A damning attack on free-market capitalism. This book deals with the economics of food distribution during famines and looks at the most famous famines of the latter part of the last century. Sen reaches no specific conclusion on what should be done to ameliorate the poor distribution of a common and vital resource under capitalism. Sen describes how there is a tradition of famine-stricken countries containing enough food to adequately feed the populace and sometimes even enough to be exporting substantial amounts of food and yet large sections of the populace cannot afford sufficient food because they do not have economic access to it. I.e. they're too poor to afford to eat. Too poor to eat in a country that holds enough food to feed everyone. If that wasn't the best argument against capitalist economics I don't know what is. One interesting point that the author makes is between peasants and landless workers and how peasant classes generally do better in famine conditions as they have a direct entitlement to the crops they harvest whereas workers can only receive a wage which they must exchange in return for food. Presuming the wage is adequate enough and food available enough. Sen isn't a socialist and he leaves the reader to draw their own conclusion as to what solution is best, whether it be just a form of state welfare or full-blown socialism.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Sen's theory fundamentally holds water. I'm not sure how this would hold up to the reader who doesn't really care that much about political economy, but I thought it was awfully interesting, showing how the murky waters of entitlement separate a populace from its own food supply, leading to tragedy, often demonstrating immense contradictions in the logic of capitalist global development schemes. Sen's theory fundamentally holds water. I'm not sure how this would hold up to the reader who doesn't really care that much about political economy, but I thought it was awfully interesting, showing how the murky waters of entitlement separate a populace from its own food supply, leading to tragedy, often demonstrating immense contradictions in the logic of capitalist global development schemes.

  22. 4 out of 5

    আকিব সাতিল

    Dr. Amartya Sen was honest to point out the elephant in the room in this book. Specially his rhetoric on the Bangladesh famine was an out of the box attempt that revealed the facts behind the death of 1.5 million Bangladeshis.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    A very interesting theory that changed the way I think about famines. However, the book itself is somewhat technical and dull.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Tanya Lolonis

    makes the case that famines are frequently political in nature--when hard times hit, some groups get food while less important groups do not. dense, but worth the effort.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I read this in Ireland in a Poverty and Famine class and it changed the way I think (cheesy, I know). I keep buying books by this guy and meaning to read them, but I haven't yet. I read this in Ireland in a Poverty and Famine class and it changed the way I think (cheesy, I know). I keep buying books by this guy and meaning to read them, but I haven't yet.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sunil

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vivek

  28. 5 out of 5

    Cass Sunstein

  29. 4 out of 5

    Haya

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Hoyt

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