Dr. Jayati Ghosh Joins U.N. High Level Board

Feb/02/2021 / by Alpana Varma
Jayati Ghosh
W36RPP Jayati Ghosh, Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, during the International Social Forum hosted by the Labour Party at the SOAS University of London in central London.

A leading development economist in India and around the world, Dr. Jayati Ghosh, has been appointed by the United Nations to a high level advisory board. This board advises and keeps the UN Secretary-General abreast with situations, enabling him to respond to the current and future socio-economic challenges, in the post-Covid-19 world. Her appointment adds to the numerous laurels Dr. Ghosh has already received for her work, on gender and poverty. 

For 35 years, she taught economics at India’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, and is currently a professor of economics at ‘University of Massachusetts Amherst’. She is among 20 other globally renowned prominent personalities, appointed to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) for their intellectual leadership in economic and social fields. They form the second UN High-Level Advisory Board (HLAB) on Economic and Social Affairs. The first such high-level advisory board was set up by the UN in 2018, as a key element in implementing the 2030 Agenda, for sustainable development. Some of the other members handpicked by the UN for this board, include well known economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, Ricardo Lagos former president of Chile and honorary director of the Inter American Dialogue, Ernesto Zedillo former president of Mexico and director of the ‘Yale Center for the Study of Globalization’.

Born in 1955, in Bangkok where her father was posted at the time, Dr. Ghosh received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from ‘Miranda House,’ Delhi, India. She completed her Master of Arts and Masters of Philosophy in economics at the ‘Jawaharlal Nehru University’ and her Ph.D., at ‘Cambridge University.’ Her 1984 doctoral thesis at Cambridge University was entitled “Non capitalist land rent: theories and the case of North India”. Her core areas include international economics, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy and other issues related to gender and development. After her Ph.D., she lived in Cambridge to work as research fellow, working on issues of external debt in developing countries. Much as she had loved England as a student, she realized she did not like it when she was a working professional. On her return to India, she worked briefly at the Planning Commission, before she landed her ‘dream job’ at ‘Jawaharlal Nehru University.’ (JNU)

In an interview with ‘The Hindu’ of India, she stated “JNU is one of the best universities, not just in India but possibly the whole world. It has an amazing combination of good faculty, and bright and diverse students. Such an institution gives you a much greater richness of conversation in the classroom and outside.”

Daughter of renowned economist, Arun Kumar Ghosh, who represented India as the ‘Alternate Executive Director’ at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ghosh has evidently inherited her passion for economics from her father. Along with another passion, she has inherited from him — western classical music. She started taking music lessons at the age of seven, in Washington, DC, during her father’s IMF stint. She started with violin lessons, but after the ill-tempered violin teacher smashed the instrument on her head for a minor error, her father enrolled her in piano lessons, which has grown into an abiding interest, that is more than a hobby. As a pianist she has earned various grades of Trinity College, London and even contemplated becoming a professional pianist. She has written and lectured extensively on music, as well. 

Dr. Ghosh is married to Abhijit Sen, an economist who was a member of the disbanded Planning Commission and they have a daughter, Jahnavi.

On economic policy, Dr. Ghosh has been a fierce critic of the near-universal obsession with ‘discipline’. She believes India cannot revive its economy without increasing public spending. 

Ghosh has authored 19 books including, Never Done and Poorly Paid: Women’s Work in Globalizing India and nearly 200 scholarly articles. She has received several prizes, along with her distinguished contributions to the social sciences in India in 2015; the International Labor Organization’s ‘Decent Work Research Prize,’ Geneva, 2010 and the NordSud Prize for Research in Social Sciences 2010, Italy. 

 She has advised governments in India and other countries, as well as served as chairperson of Andhra Pradesh Commission on Farmers’ Welfare in 2004 and as member of the ‘National Knowledge Commission of India’ (2005-09). She is the executive secretary of ‘International Development Economics Associates’, an international network of heterodox development economists. 

Dr. Ghosh has consulted for international organizations like ILO, UNDP, UNCTAD, UNDESA, UNRISD and UN Women and is a member of several international commissions. She writes regularly for newspapers like The Guardian of UK and Frontline of India. 

Inspired by Dr. Ghosh? Read more about other women appointed to major positions here

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