I was just reading an essay by Sobhan called "Agents into Principals. Democratizing Development in South Asia", a strong piece of writing on how freedoms of the poor should be ensured through very different kinds of poverty alleviation strategies than those which South Asian governments have focused on so far.
Just quickly, a few lines from the conclusion of Sobhan's essay:
Access of a poor woman to micro-credit to buy a cow does not address the problem of who controls the milk market or the distribution chain or value addition associated with the processing of milk.
- Investing milch cow owners with a sense of agency to seek a better price for their milk may help to improve the price they receive from milk traders.
- But the primary producer still remains at the bottom of the value chain for milk products and enhancement of their agency role within a market-driven system will not significantly enhance returns on their supply of milk.
- It is only when a woman as an agent can graduate to the position of a principal, as a possible shareholder in a milk processing enterprise, that the original micro-credit beneficiary will not only be able to enhance their income but also acquire a stake in an important industry and share in its growth.
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Always a pleasure to hear and re-hear Amartya Sen's articulated ideas on:
- welfare and his idea of "development as freedom"
- his capabilities approach to poverty alleviation
- justice and fairness, and their links to the issue of poverty
- what he has consistently emphasized..... the importance of ensuring greater agency and empowerment for women.