There are many prominent economists hailing from India, some are awarded with great accolades, some are teaching at prestigious schools and some are heading critical organizations. Among all these name there is one Indian of Belgian origin who has relentlessly worked in India and for Indian development. Born in 1959, Jean Dreze, an action-oriented development economist, attained his education at University of Essex and the Indian statistical institute, New Delhi. He has lived in India since 1979 and became an Indian citizen in 2002 at the age of 44. He is currently an honorary professor in Delhi School of Economic and is visiting professor in Allahabad University.
He works in the field of-
Child health and education (‘Public Report on Basic Education in India’ (co-authored with Anuradha De and others), Oxford University Press, 1999, ‘Focus On Children Under Six’ (co-authored with other members of Citizens’ Initiative for the Rights of Children Under Six), published by the secretariat of the Right to Food Campaign, New Delhi, 2006),
Hunger (‘Hunger and Public Action’ (co-authored with Amartya Sen), Oxford University Press, 1989, ‘The Political Economy of Hunger’ (3 volumes, co-edited with Amartya Sen), Oxford University Press, 1990),
Famine (‘The Economics of Famine’ (edited), International Library of Critical Writings in Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, 1999),
NREGA (‘Employment Guarantee: A Primer’ (co-authored with Nikhil Dey and Reetika Khera), National Book Trust, 2006),
And so on.
He is an exemplary individual who has selflessly dedicated his life for the development of the country he accepted as his. Apart from his treasured research and publications, he has always been associated with numerous social movements for instance the Right to Information and the Right to Food Campaign to name a few. He is known for his simple living. He lives a modest life mainly residing in small towns of Moradabad and Kalahandi with his wife Bela Bhatia. His work is not only based on quantitative economic models but also comprehensive field study where for example he lived with London’s homeless squatters and in a village in India with no amenities to understand the issues he was working on.
His life should set an example for all of us who are so consumed in our own lives that we are blind to the trouble of others. Denying better financial opportunities available, he chose to work for the common good. Some of his works are so comprehensive that they are used as pillars of Indian development studies. Humanitarian and educated citizens are the biggest boon for any developing country as he has proved.