Amartya Sen won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998. he is Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. This article was written for NPQ's monthly column with the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Nobel 2000.
Cambridge - As the century comes to an end, we
may well ask: what happened in this one? Well many things did -- some
terrible, some nice, others neither. Let me ask a different question.
what is the most distinguished thing that happend in this century? Everyone
does, I am sure, have his or her own answer to this difficult -- and possibly
illposed -- question. I am no good at sorting out my answer to any momentous
question, but if I had to point to something, I would, I guess give the
pride of place to emergence of democracy as the preeminently acceptable
form of government. This is not to deny that billions of people still
live outside democracies. But democracy has progressed quite rapidly in
every continent, and has acquired a normative distinction that would have
been hard to imagine at the turn of the last century. There are very few
non-democratic countries left that do not have a vigorous pro-democracy