Jayadev is Professor of Economics at Azim Premji University. He works on issues of Macroeconomics, Finance and Distribution. His research has appeared in several leading journals as well as in popular outlets. He is also a consultant to the Institute for New Economic Thinking where he is deputy director of the Political Economy of Distribution Program and helps oversee the partnership between Azim Premji University and INET.
- Leader of Azim Premji University
- Leader of Political Economy of Distribution
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Arjun Jayadev appeared on CNN News 18 to discuss the latest wave of Covid spreading through India
“To go back a little bit, Covid is possibly the first global event that we’ve actually seen. One year after it really started, we are seeing all these vaccines. It is really quite incredible when you think about the scientific advancement, it has really been something quite extraordinary. But our systems of management globally of knowledge and health are weak and counterproductive and in adequate. I’d say they’re probably best described as unjust and incompetent. Let’s start with this whole question of patent rights. Right from the outset it became quite clear that it was hindering the fight against covid. From the early days if you remember N95 masks we’re a concern, then treatments like remdesivir, so it’s not only a vaccine issue. This was the basis for last years’ call for the Covid technology access pool, which was rebuffed despite widespread support. It was rebuffed by the advanced countries. It’s hard to imagine why this should be the case because such technologies for public health are massive and have positive spill over benefits. Moving now to vaccines, I think the system is even more inefficient when one considers the fact that many companies across the world received significant subsidies for vaccines. Estimates range from about $100 billion and in some cases the entire cost; Moderna and Johnson and Johnson vaccines that were paid for by a public set of money. Such is the case for having patent rights to allow for innovation completely disappears. Now the debate has moved, that it is not actually IP which is the restriction, it’s the ability to produce and manufacturing capacity. But remember eight months ago that did not exist in developed economies. People like the Moderna chief chemist said it takes about three to four months to actually set up these factories. What we should’ve had was a massive transfer in technology to places that could actually do this, completely open access to technology of all sorts, and ramping up production on a sort of global war scale. That has not happened and is it’s still not happening because of these limitations and unfortunately despite India and South Africa making the case in the WTO and despite some better noises from the Biden administration we’re really not seeing much movement.” — Arjun Jayadev
Arjun Jayadev appeared on Bloomberg to discuss the 2021 budget and widening inequality in India
“What I’d really like to see going forward is some sort of vision which is inclusive and forward-looking in the medium and long term about all these kinds of aspects welfare; health, education, environment. In the past, we’ve had a situation when we’ve looked at other countries which have made this transition to more advanced economies. They have always had some element of industrial policy thinking through how they actually going to shift their populations from low-productivity to high-productivity. Currently, I think we’re doing things with a hope and a prayer. Our growth models have fizzled out so far. What we’re looking for is something in the next three to five years which will be aimed at re-opening new markets, more inclusion, and really ensuring the wealth of a much much larger fraction of the population than we are currently doing.” — Arjun Jayadev, Bloomberg “Jayadev, a professor of economics at Azim Premji University, said India has returned home this year after decades of failure in providing access to quality health care for a large part of the population. If there is a silver lining, then the crisis will give the country a chance to “build better,” in the words of Jaydev. This includes at least three elements – an environment that is closely linked to health outcomes, with a medium-term plan to keep health and education spending at a consistently high level. – aimed at improving the quality of the environment and, finally, committed to support. one-third of these elements are something similar to a city employment program. The budget could also help immediately by universalizing the PDS and supporting revenues through direct remittances, Jayadev said. “Overall, short-term relief and long-term structural focus will help transition to a more inclusive and vital growth strategy that is missing in the current vision.” — Pallavi Nahata, Bloomberg
Arjun Jayadev has an article in the NY Times on the crisis of access to affordable medicines and the need to suspend intellectual property rights
“the vaccines developed by these companies were developed thanks wholly or partly to taxpayer money. Those vaccines essentially belong to the people — and yet the people are about to pay for them again, and with little prospect of getting as many as they need fast enough. … mounting pressure from poor countries at the W.T.O. should give the governments of rich countries leverage to negotiate with their pharmaceutical companies for cheaper drugs and vaccines worldwide. Leaning on those companies is the right thing to do in the face of a global pandemic; it is also the best way for the governments of rich countries to take care of their own populations, which in some cases experience more severe drug shortages than do people in far less affluent places.” — Achal Prabhala, Arjun Jayadev and Dean Baker
Inequality, in many ways, may be the biggest question of our times. And yet it is a topic that is still underexplored in conventional economics curricula.