Wherever my 80-year-old father, Amartya Sen, travels in India, a scrum of students encircle him, eager to shake his hand. As popular as a Bollywood star or pop singer, he came to his fame through his work as an economist: He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1998. But he was not always a dutiful student, he told me when I joined him on a recent visit to his alma mater, Presidency College, in Calcutta. In fact, he spent most of his college years playing hooky at a café across the street. My father started his studies back in 1951, four years after India won its sovereignty. He was on his way to register for classes when a friend, Sukhamoy Chakravarty, stopped him.