FBF awards Peace Prize to Amartya Sen

Sen receives award remotely through digital ceremony

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FBF Peace Prize awardee Amartya Sen (Image: Gretchen Ertl via www.buchmesse.de/en)
FBF Peace Prize awardee Amartya Sen (Image: Gretchen Ertl via www.buchmesse.de/en)

The 72nd edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair (FBF) was held in a digital format from 14 to 18 October 2020 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Indian Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade at St. Paul’s Church in Frankfurt on 18 October 2020.

The digital ceremony for the award was broadcast live by ARD television network, with the awardee Sen joining in remotely to receive the honor. German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier delivered the speech to honor Sen.

The Peace Prize comprises a cash reward of 25,000 Euros and is awarded to those who make a significant contribution to peace through literature, art, or science. The German Publishers and Booksellers Association has been awarding the Peace Prize since 1950.

The Board of Trustees consists of Klaus Brinkbäumer, Prof Dr Raphael Gross, Dr Moritz Helmstaedter, Dr Nadja Kneissler, Prof. Dr Karl-Josef Kuschel, Felicitas von Lovenberg, Prof Dr Ethel Matala de Mazza, Bascha Mika and Karin Schmidt-Friderichs.

The Board of Trustees issued this statement with regard to their choice, “The German Publishers and Booksellers Association hereby awards the 2020 Peace Prize of the German Book Trade to the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen. In doing so, the association and its members have chosen to pay tribute to a pioneering scholar who has addressed issues of global justice for decades and whose work to combat social inequality in education and healthcare is as relevant today as ever. Among Sen’s most important contributions is the idea of evaluating a society’s wealth not solely based on economic growth indices, but also on the opportunities for development available to all individuals who comprise that society, in particular its weakest members.

Throughout his work, Amartya Sen has consistently highlighted solidarity and a willingness to negotiate as essential democratic values, proving in the process that cultures need not be the source of disputes over identity. His vivid and powerful descriptions have also served to elucidate the fundamental ways in which poverty, hunger and illness are intimately linked to the absence of free and democratic structures. The ‘Human Development Index’, the ‘capabilities approach’ and the notion of ‘missing women’ are just three of his groundbreaking concepts that continue to set high standards to this day with regard to generating, preserving and evaluating equal opportunities and decent living conditions for all. Amartya Sen’s inspiring oeuvre represents a compelling call to establish a culture of political decision-making borne by a sense of responsibility for the well-being of others, including the right to self-determination and the right to articulate one’s interests and have a say in one’s own future”.

Amartya Sen, born in Shantiniketan in India in 1933, teaches at Harvard University as a professor of philosophy and economics. Until 2004 he was also a Masters from Trinity College at Cambridge University. Sen has taught in Calcutta, New Delhi, London, and Oxford, among others. In 1998 he received the Nobel Prize for Economics, and in 2007 the Meister Eckhart Prize.

Sen is considered one of the most influential contemporary thinkers and has been awarded over 100 honorary doctorates for his work. He has had his books translated into over 30 languages. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has been married since 1991 to the British economic historian Emma Georgina Rothschild-Sen, who also teaches at Harvard University. He is the father of four children.

Sen’s research and publication topics include development and welfare economics, decision theory, social choice theory, gender studies, and questions about social inequality. He presents himself in an abbreviated selection as “Asians, citizens of India, Bengali with Bangladeshi ancestors, residents of the United States or England, economist, a dilettante in the philosophical field, author, Sanskritist, staunch supporter of secularism and democracy, man, feminist, Heterosexual, gay and lesbian rights advocate, non-religious lifestyle and Hindu background, non-Brahmin and non-believer in the afterlife.”