The teaching materials on MRUniversity.com on India are - one must be careful in one's choice of adjectives here - insanely great. I particularly like his three videos on Amartya Sen because they capture his ideas extremely well. Although I don't share Amartya Sen's views on the role of the private sector in boosting economic growth in India, his is, I think, an important voice that lends support to certain important moral ideas for India.
Below are links to the Amartya Sen videos on MRUniversity.com.
- Amartya Sen #1 : http://mruniversity.com/courses/development-economics/amartya-sen-1
- Amartya Sen #2 : http://mruniversity.com/courses/development-economics/amartya-sen-2
- Amartya Sen #3 : http://mruniversity.com/courses/development-economics/amartya-sen-3
Update (February 17): I think it would be useful for me to amplify my point on Amartya Sen. I think Amartya Sen overemphasizing the role of the public sector in many cases and, thereby, underemphasizes the actual role played by the private sector.
In this interview, for instance, he says that "Some areas of India are much better provided in terms of health care than others. For example, Kerala has very wide health care. Now Kerala is not any richer than the rest of India; it's in fact slightly poorer on average. If Kerala can do it, the rest of India also can. In fact, in terms of survival to mature ages, the African American population in the United States, though many times richer than the population of Kerala, actually has a lower chance of survival to mature ages. Low per capita income is not really such a barrier. That's the first thing."
But the fact is that the healthcare system in Kerala is, in actuality, not all that good. Private healthcare expenditure in Kerala is much higher
It may be useful to look more closely at the instance offered by Sen of blacks in America - he offers this population as a population to contrast Kerala against. In my opinion, the African American population in the U.S. is simply not a good population to compare against in terms of this particular statistic - survival to maturity. The reason for this is simple. What is driving the low chance of survival to mature ages are factors like crime. People are dying at younger ages because there are more guns on the street. For the African-American population in the United States, what may be necessary is stricter gun control. Gun control is nowhere close to an issue in Kerala. So, what Amartya Sen offers is not an apples-to-apples comparison.
The problem with comparing two extremely disparate populations is that the problems faced by these populations can be extremely different. And therefore, it follows that the solutions to the specific problems may also be quite different. Increasing public expenditure does not now seem to be a good solution to Kerala's problems. Instead, greater liberalization - such as in the retail sector - is the right way forward.
Update (Feb 25): Also, updated the main post a bit.