The third Prof. Suresh Tendulkar Memorial Lecture, organised under the leadership of Dr. Jyoti Chandiramani, Director of Symbiosis School of Economics, took place in the Lavale campus, welcoming over eight hundred students from different Symbiosis colleges. SSE was proud to welcome Dr. Bibek Debroy, prestigious economist, a member of NITI Aayog and Padma Shri recipient to speak on ‘Twenty-five years of Economic Reforms: Poverty and Inequality’. Among the audience were members of the Tendulkar family, as well as other dignitaries of Symbiosis International University. After a warm welcome by Dr. Chandiramani and the lamp lighting ceremony, Dr. Debroy was felicitated by the Director. Dr. Chandiramani talked about the inception and evolution of SSE and the manner in which we came to organise this annual lecture series in honour of the late economist, Prof. Suresh Tendulkar. The occasion also marked the inauguration of Oeconomica Scriptus, the annual student publication, compiled under the guidance of Ms. Ishita Ghosh and Ms. Sushma Nayak.
Dr. Debroy started the talk by recalling his personal association with Prof. Tendulkar over the years in various roles, such as during their work together at the National Statistical Council, the PM Economic Advisory Council, and the India Today group of economists, to name a few. Given the pioneering work Prof. Tendulkar did in the field of poverty estimation, Dr. Debroy chose to focus his talk on reviewing the status of poverty and inequality and their estimation in India, both traditional methods and more recent developments and debates in the field. He spoke of India’s role in spearheading the work relating to the measurement of poverty and the challenges we face along the way. This includes the problem of focusing on consumption poverty and not income poverty that occurs due to relying on data collected by NSSO on household expenditure.
Our scope for quantifying well-being has evolved from the mere focus on income or consumption expenditure to the Human Development Index, with its range of various other indicators, which include healthcare, education, etc. Furthermore, he contextualised the issues with reference to the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. Another area of emphasis in the talk was the heterogeneity of India’s economic reality. This poses challenges to the practical understanding and solution making to poverty related issues. One key point that emerged from the talk was the critical role government machinery has to play in providing access to tools such as healthcare, education, road systems etc. that may act as agents of empowerment for the masses.
Dr. Debroy ended his talk with an observation of the vibrant, pulsating, impatient, young Indian spirit that has the capability to make great strides given the opportunities that exist in our country at this particular juncture. The session ended with a Question and Answer round that covered a wide range of queries expressed by students from various institutions in attendance