Book Review: Jean Dreze, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone

Published date01 January 2019
Date01 January 2019
AuthorAnil K Kanungo
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Reviews
Jean Dreze, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone.
Ranikhet: Permanent Black, 2017, ix + 341 pp., `795.
Jean Dreze’s new book, a collection of essays called ‘Sense and Solidarity—
Jholawala Economics for Everyone’, is a wonderful read for those who have
genuine interest in India’s development economics. Dreze combines his aca-
demic rigour with a deep sense of social activism that sets him apart from other
academics working in development economics. He works in a space that is
widely ignored by many, and rare researcher has ventured into such arena with
sense of social activism.
The book contains 10 essays which are written by well-known authors who are
extraordinarily sensitive towards the social issues and have contributed immensely
in the past to bring such issues to the forefront of academics and action-oriented
Through the introductory chapter ‘Economics among Road Scholars’, Dreze
narrates the most persisting social evil—poverty—in its quintessential form,
which is poignantly mentioned in the opening paragraph.
Hundreds of informal sector coal-miners in Ranchi trudging miles with heavy loads of
coal they have dug up, often from below the land from which they were forcibly dis-
placed. Dreze quotes George Orwell saying all of us owe our comfortable existence to
...poor drudges underground, blackened to the eyes, with their throat full of coal dust.
This largely summarizes the spirit of ‘Wretched of the Earth’ whose significance
can be discerned through these collections of essays.
At the outset, Economist Dreze argues for an increased role for action-oriented
research in development policy. This has been considerably highlighted under the
10 broad themes such as drought and hunger, poverty, school meals, health care,
child development and elementary education, employment guarantee, food secu-
rity and the public distribution system, corporate power and technocracy, war and
peace, and top-up. He has updated and given clarity to issue with introductions,
background notes as well as statistical and bibliographic sources.
Dreze’s analysis could comfortably suggest the gap that exists between the
inadequacies of statistical analyses and academic research and approaches. The
world sometimes has grown pessimistic about economics for its over-reliance on
data and statistics but has not been able to predict or assimilate reality.
Understanding the pulse of real India especially through this collection of essays
International Studies
56(1) 68–77, 2019
2019 Jawaharlal Nehru University
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/0020881719828127

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