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When the sitar maestro Ravi Shankar and Nobel laureate economist Amartya Sen received the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, a journalist is said to have asked them, “Between the two of you, who is the more talented?”

Comparing musical and economic talent is in many ways meaningless. But Shankar offered an interesting response: “Teach me economics for a week and ask me to give a lecture; I will manage it without making a fool of myself. Now, teach my friend Amartya to play the sitar for a week and ask him to give a public performance … .”

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