Jean Drèze has a rare and distinctive understanding of the Indian economy and its relationship with the social life of ordinary people. He has travelled widely in rural India and done fieldwork of a kind that few economists have attempted. This has enabled him to make invaluable contributions not only to public debates on economic and social policy but also to our knowledge of the actual state of the country.
Drèze’s insights on India’s “unfashionable” issues – hunger, poverty, inequality, corruption, and conflict – are all on display here and offer a unique perspective on the evolution of social policy over roughly the past two decades. Historic legislations and initiatives of the period, relating for instance to the right to food and the right to work, are all scrutinised and explained, as are the fierce debates that often accompanied them.
“Jholawala” has become a disparaging term for activists in the business media. This book affirms the learning value of collective action combined with sound economic analysis. In his detailed Introduction, Drèze persuasively argues for an approach to development economics where research and action become inseparably interconnected.
This is a book as much for economists as for every reading citizen.
Jean Drèze studied Mathematical Economics at the University of Essex and did his PhD (Economics) at the Indian Statistical Institute. He has taught at the London School of Economics and the Delhi School of Economics, and is currently Visiting Professor at Ranchi University. He has made wide-ranging contributions to development economics, with special reference to India. He is co-author (with Amartya Sen) of Hunger and Public Action (1989) and An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions (2013). He is also one of the co-authors of the Public Report on Basic Education in India, known as the PROBE Report. Drèze is active in various campaigns for social and economic rights as well as in the world-wide movement for peace and disarmament. Since 2002, when he became an Indian citizen, he has lived and worked in India.
“Jean Drèze is one of the world’s finest development economists. He works in a space that is widely but incorrectly ignored by most. The practical implications of evidence-based economics cannot be worked through without engaging all of society in democratic discussion, including (especially) those who are working for change. Economics itself fails without that engagement. In this collection of beautiful essays, some previously unpublished, Drèze uses economics, philosophy, and his extensive practical experience to illuminate the whole range of social policy in India. Read on!”
– Angus Deaton, Nobel Laureate, Economic Sciences, 2015