India-born Nobel laureate Amartya Sen was today felicitated with the prestigious National Medals of Arts and Humanities award by US President Barack Obama for his efforts to increase the understanding of fighting hunger and poverty.

Sen, who won Nobel Prize in economics in 1998, was given the award at a glittering White House function here.

Amartya Sen

"We even have an economist, whom we don't always get on stage," Obama said referring to 78-year-old Sen, before he presented the 2011 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities.

"Sen is being awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal for his insights into the causes of poverty, famine, and injustice. By applying philosophical thinking to questions of policy, he has changed how standards of living are measured and increased our understanding of how to fight hunger," said the citation, read by a military aid of the US President.

The two Nobel Laureates (Obama and Sen) were seen chatting on some issues during the award ceremony. Sen also attended the White House reception hosted by President Obama on this occasion. The First Lady, Michelle also attended the awards ceremony.

The 2011 National Medal of Arts was also awarded to Will Barnet, Rita Dove, Al Pacino, Emily Rauh Pulitzer, Martin Puryear, Mel Tillis, United Service Organization and Andr Watts.

And the 2011 National Humanities Medal were given to Kwame Anthony Appiah, John Ashbery, Robert Darnton, Andrew Delbanco, National History Day, Charles Rosen sand Teofilo Ruiz besides Sen.