“Learned economists and policymakers are meeting at Vigyan Bhawan today to discuss the unfolding ‘revolution of social welfare policy’ led by the JAM (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile) trinity,” said Dreze.
Dreze is a development economist who counts Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen as one of his influences and with whom he has co-authored several books. Dreze was also a member of the National Advisory Council, a body which was set up during the UPA government’s first term. Dreze later resigned from the body.
Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian, whose economic team in North Block had organised the event, tried to downplay the matter by saying that the cancellation was due to “last-minute adjustments” in the schedule of the conference and it had nothing to do with Dreze’s views. “As soon as we had decided, we informed Jean Dreze about it. Just want to make it clear (that) this has nothing to do with views, because the finance minister himself personally called the Kerala chief minister. It is not based on views or anything and everyone is welcome to attend,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the conclave.
He said the government respected Dreze highly and that the latter was welcome to attend the conclave.
Dreze told news agency PTI that he was told he would not even be allowed to attend the conclave.
“On the train to Delhi, I received a call from a functionary from the Ministry of Finance who explained, with some embarrassment, that I had been dropped from the programme and would not even be allowed to attend. No reason was given,” he was quoted as saying by the agency.
In his article, Dreze said that the ambitious implementation of JAM would be faced with a number of hurdles.