13 June, 2021

Development At Extreme Close Up

Jholawala Dreze’s ‘research for action’ gets close to the people at the end of public policy. These essays urge greater collaboration between activists and economists.

Photograph by Narendra Bisht
Development At Extreme Close Up

Manmohan Singh attracted much lampooning and ridicule during and after his ten-year-long tenure as PM for the nature of the relationship of his government with 10, Janpath. One of the institutional mechanisms for exercising influence over his government was the National Advisory Council (NAC) chaired by Congress president Sonia Gandhi. NAC was UNI­que in bringing together diverse stakeholders, including renowned grassro­ots activists who were perceived as anti-est­ablishment. NAC became a skylight for new perspectives and a catalyst for changing the way social policy was formulated. The most visible and far-reaching changes were the series of laws instituting rights to information, employment, education, food etc. Soc­ial activists or jholawalas had been pitching for these ideas for quite sometime. NAC enabled them an unprecedented influence over policy making.

A collection of essays written by Jean Dreze between 2000 and 2017, with the sub-title ‘jholawala economics for everyone’, assumes significance in this context. He was a member of NAC in...

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