17Prybyla (1970: 264-9); Lardy (1983: 152-3); Putterman (1993: 11); Ravallion (1997: 1225-6). 18For Drèze and Sen (1989: 22), ‘It would be, particularly, a mistake to relate the causation of famines to violations of legality ... the millions that die in a famine typically die in an astonishingly “legal” and “orderly” way’.
11and Sen’s emphasis is on the need for public action by a benign state, making decisions about more or less food entitlements, rather than an ill-intentioned state, with much of the population facing a dog-eat-dog existence, making decisions to intervene in favour of one group at the expense of another and its food entitlement. For Drèze and Sen (1989: 17-18), avoiding famine involves the ‘division of benefits [from the] differential pulls coming from divergent interest groups’, not stopping the denial of groups’ entitlements to food illegally or extra-legally. As Keen (1994: 5) contends, in Drèze and Sen’s view, ‘There are victims of famine, but few immediate culprits or beneficiaries’. Drèze and Sen do not consider the possibility that states or politically powerful groups that control states may obstruct relief and contribute to famine for rational purposes of their own. Indeed the Drèze and Sen conception of the state is essentially a liberal one, in which the failure to factor in the public interest is perceived as a failure of public policy. Most scholars and international agencies share the Drèze-Sen view, widely perceiving famine as relief ‘blunders’ and the result of poverty and market forces, and failing to see how markets are shaped or forced by state-condoned raiding, collusion, and intimidation (as in Darfur in 2005). Sen’s approach understates the extent to which starvation is in weak or failed states whose rulers perpetuate violence and withhold food against large numbers of their people. 3 Conclusion In the last 20-30 years, changing events and new disciplinary tools have changed development economics substantially. Despite these changes, many controversies about the meaning of development remain. Yet there is an underlying consensus within the development community for the need to accelerate growth and reduce hunger, poverty, illiteracy, preventable disease, LDC debt burdens, gender inequality, and unsustainable environmental damage. Perhaps development economists can become public intellectuals to stop the declining commitment to development and interest in its meaning. Can today’s economists, similar to Dudley Seers (1920-1983) and Amartya Sen (1933-), muster the passion, pragmatism, and communication skills to lobby for development? Yes. Sen speaks frequently in the West and South Asia about the importance of development issues. I list two examples of others who have joined the public dialogue on the meaning and importance of development. Joseph Stiglitz’s insights from his World Bank and US Council of Economic Advisors experience provide a platform for addressing the general public on development issues. Jeffrey Sachs, advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations on poverty, has popularized discussions on how to end poverty.