Poverty And Famines An Essay On Entitlement Psat Finalist Essay
Here he is at the very start of the book: ”An entitlement relation applied to ownership connects one set of ownerships to another through certain rules of legitimacy. Why is my ownership of the bamboo umbrella accepted? Sen is frank about the limits of his approach – but I worry he underestimates their importance.It is a recursive relation and the process of connecting can be repeated. Because I made it with my own labour using some bamboo from my land. “[W]hile 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.But his approach necessarily ignores the extent which ‘law and order’ can be an active method of resource appropriation.‘Law and order’ is here implicitly seen as nothing more than the framework within which distribution takes place.Sen knows all too well that the legal framework he uses as the basis of his analysis can be a tool of oppression.The book ends on this ringing note: “The law stands between food availability and food entitlement.I’ve just finished (the main text of) Amartya Sen’s ‘Poverty and Famines: An Essay on Entitlement and Deprivation’.Sen (famously) argues that, contrary to conventional belief, most famines aren’t created by food shortages.
This is, perhaps, one definition of a great economist.Starvation deaths can reflect legality with a vengeance.” (p.166) But Sen’s entitlement approach gives him no way to incorporate this attitude into his formal analyses.This is dubious in any context – but especially given the case studies that form the bulk of Sen’s book.‘Poverty and Famine’s longest chapter concerns the Great Bengal Famine of 1943 – which, Sen tells us in his Nobel autobiography, was one of the formative experiences of his life.75) “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.” (p. The problem for Sen’s theoretical approach, I think, is that the Second World War, and the British appropriation of Bengal’s resources to fight that war, so massively exceed any ‘entitlement’ framework that this approach loses its purchase when considering them.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.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.