Divisions, a barrier to intellectual progress: Amartya Sen

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on January 08, 2020 Published on January 07, 2020

Infosys’ co-founder NR Narayan Murthy, Nobel laureate Amartya Sen with the awardees during the Infosys Science Foundation award ceremony in Bengaluru, on Tuesday   -  -

Amartya Sen talks about the importance of ‘friendships’ at Infosys Prize 2019 event


Nobel laureate Amartya Sen on Tuesday said that divisions between groups and sects can damage social lives and can also act as barriers to intellectual progress within and across the nations.

Sen, who was the chief guest at the annual Infosys Prize, 2019 event said that there are deep links between friendship and knowledge.

“Our intellectual horizons expand when we learn from each other. We can give to the world much more than what we get from it.”

Citing an example, he said the mathematical revolution in India from the 5th century onwards led particularly by Aryabhatta was influenced by intellectual developments in Greece, Babylon and Rome. But Aryabhattian mathematics, in turn, took gigantic leaps in India and then spread abroad, with transformational impact on China, on the Arab world and eventually on Europe.

Sen, a Thomas W Lamont University Professor, and Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Harvard University, USA, said the constructive roles of friendship apply not only across the national borders but also within.

Removing barriers

“Divisions between groups and sects not only damage social lives but they can also act as barriers to intellectual progress within and across the nations. Friendship is, in fact, central to the development of knowledge,” he said. The Infosys Science Foundation gives away the Infosys Prize every year to individuals for their contributions to science and research.

The winners were later felicitated by Prof Sen with a gold medal, a citation and a prize purse of $100,000.

Trustees of the Infosys Science Foundation, SD Shibulal (President of the Board of Trustees); NR Narayana Murthy; Nandan Nilekani; TV Mohandas Pai; S Gopalakrishnan; K Dinesh; and Srinath Batni, were also present at the award ceremony. “The winners of the Infosys Prize this year have continued the tradition of those awarded over the last decade,” said Shibulal, who is also a co-founder of Infosys Ltd.

He added, “Their work shapes the path of research and progress in their respective fields, often significantly impacting other disciplines too, enabling innovation at the boundaries.”


The winners of Infosys Prize, 2019 are Prof Sunita Sarawagi for engineering and computer science, Dr Manu V Devadevan for Humanities, Dr Manjula Reddy for Life Sciences, Prof Siddhartha Mishra for Mathematical Sciences, Prof G Mugesh for Physical Sciences and Prof Anand Pandian for Social Sciences.

Published on January 07, 2020
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