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Jean Dreze | Ideas for India

Jean Drèze
Ranchi University; Delhi School of Economics
jean@econdse.org
Jean Drèze studied Mathematical Economics at the University of Essex and did his Ph.D. at the Indian Statistical Institute, New Delhi.  He has taught at the London School of Economics and the Delhi School of Economics, and is currently Visiting Professor at Ranchi University as well as Honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics. He has made wide-ranging contributions to development economics and public policy, with special reference to India. His research interests include rural development, social inequality, elementary education, child nutrition, health care and food security. Jean Drèze is co-author (with Amartya Sen) of Hunger and Public Action (Oxford University Press, 1989) and An Uncertain Glory: India and Its Contradictions (Penguin, 2013)", and also one of the co-authors of the Public Report on Basic Education in India, also known as “PROBE Report”.

Articles By Jean Drèze
Decoding universal basic income for India
Posted On: 20 Jan 2017


In this article, Jean Drèze argues that while universal basic income is a good idea in principle, as far as India today is concerned, it sounds like premature articulation. It could also become a Trojan horse for the dismantling of hard-won entitlements of the underprivileged.

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Food Security Act: How are India’s poorest states faring?
Posted On: 29 Jun 2016


The National Food Security Act was passed in 2013. This column reports findings from a recent survey on the status of the Act in six of India’s poorest states. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal are doing quite well - the PDS is in good shape and most people are covered; however, Bihar and Jharkhand are yet to complete essential PDS reforms.
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Aadhaar Bill: UID without excessively compromising privacy?
Posted On: 06 May 2016

Tags:   Aadhaar , IT

Can something like UID be created without compromising privacy beyond acceptable limits? If so, how should the Aadhaar Bill have been written? What are its specific and avoidable weaknesses?

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Aadhaar: Move towards a surveillance State?
Posted On: 05 May 2016

Tags:   Aadhaar , IT

Most advanced economies have had some version of UID for a long time, example, the Social Security number in the US, the Social Insurance Number in Canada, etc. This is recorded not only in interactions with the State (example, tax filing) but also in many kinds of non-governmental transactions (example, college admissions or property purchase). Yet, it is arguable that these nations have not become police States, occasional abuse notwithstanding. If privacy concerns in India are justified, is it a reflection of the trust deficit in government specific to India (or poorer countries more generally)? Or do schemes like UID inevitably lead to a surveillance State anywhere in the world?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Better targeting and reduced corruption?
Posted On: 04 May 2016


Supporters of Aadhaar express the hope that will reduce inclusion errors and corruption by eliminating ghost beneficiaries, say in schemes like MNREGA. Are there substantial benefits to be reaped on this account?

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Aadhaar and government benefits: Risk of increasing exclusion?
Posted On: 03 May 2016


The Supreme Court verdict that Aadhaar cannot be made mandatory to receive benefits reflects the concern that it may increase exclusion errors, either by leaving people out of the net or through technological malfunction. Is this a serious concern?

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Aadhaar: Incremental information-gathering powers for government?
Posted On: 02 May 2016

Tags:   Aadhaar , IT

The government already has the means to collect a lot of information on citizens (example, phone conversations and logs, credit card transactions, income tax records, bank account details, etc.). Conversely, there are many activities which happen under the radar (example, cash transactions, informal sector employment, etc.). What kind of information-gathering powers will Aadhaar confer on the State over and above what it already has?

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Child development: How are Indian states faring?
Posted On: 10 Dec 2015

Topics:   Education , Health

The recent release of the ‘Rapid Survey On Children’ report presents an opportunity to take a fresh look at the state of Indian children. Based on a simple Child Development Index constructed for 2005-06 and 2013-14, this column finds that Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Himachal Pradesh are at the top. Other states – even Bihar – can catch up, but only if they learn the right lessons from the leading states.
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JAM and the pursuit of nirvana
Posted On: 13 Nov 2015


The Finance Ministry is proposing to roll all subsidies into a single, lump-sum cash transfer to households, on the back of the JAM (Jan Dhan Yojana, Aadhaar, Mobile numbers) trinity. In this article, Jean Drèze, Honorary Professor at the Delhi School of Economics, argues that a single-minded focus on high-tech cash transfers as a foundation for social policy in India is fraught with dangers.
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Squaring the poverty circle
Posted On: 30 Jul 2014


An expert group headed by C Rangarajan has recommended a poverty measurement methodology for India. In this article, Deaton and Drèze argue that the method proposed by the expert group to set poverty lines is both theoretically and empirically implausible. A simple and transparent benchmark, amenable to democratic debate, would be more useful.
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The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act: is it working?
Posted On: 29 Nov 2012


MNREGA is one of the government´s largest flagship schemes, and is the largest job creation programme of its kind in the world. Supporters believe that it is necessary to help rural workers smooth income in times of distress and increase labour market access for marginalised groups, whereas critics argue that it is taking labour from the troubled agricultural sector and doing more harm than good. What does the evidence really tell us - is MNREGA working or would resources be better spent elsewhere?
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