2022 – Plenary sessions

Talk 1: What Happened to Inequality After 2011-12?

Himanshu, Associate Professor of Economics,  Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University

The period after 2011-12 has been a period of profound changes in the Indian economy. This is true not just in terms of what happened to growth in the economy but also what happened to the distribution of income in the economy. This is also the period when the economy has suffered several shocks both natural as well as policy induced with severe repercussions on the economy. Unfortunately, the standard measure of inequality in India which is based on the consumption expenditure surveys is not available after 2011-12. While it does limit the ability of researchers to say anything definitive on the trends in inequality, this presentation is an attempt to look at the trends in inequality using other sources. Surprisingly, contrary to expectations, preliminary estimates suggest a decline in inequality during the period after 2011-12. While it does raise questions on the drivers of the inequality particularly during a period of extreme distress, it also raises issues of measurement as well as the nature of inequality in the country. This presentation will attempt to address some of the concerns from the available data.

Himanshu is Associate Professor in Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is also visiting fellow at Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi. He has held visiting fellowships at London School of Economics, (British Academy Senior Visiting Fellow and C R Parekh Fellow) and UNU-WIDER (Finland). His primary area of research is development economics with focus on issues related to poverty, inequality, employment, food security, rural development and agrarian change. His current research interests revolve around poverty and inequality in India, structural change and changing pattern of employment and livelihood in rural India.  Himanshu is a regular contributor to various media publications including television. He writes a fortnightly column on issues related to development in MINT newspaper. He has received the Sanjay Thakur Young Economist Award of the Indian Society of Labour Economics and Personnalité d’ Avenir of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Himanshu received his PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University. His recent publications include “How Lives Change: Palanpur, India and Development Economics” with Nicholas Stern and Peter Lanjouw, published by Oxford University Press, London (2018). The book is based on the longest longitudinal survey of a village Palanpur, a village in western Uttar Pradesh which has been surveyed intensively seven times starting from the first survey in 1957-58. He has been the principal investigator for the sixth and seventh round of Palanpur surveys along with Nicholas Stern and Peter Lanjouw.

Talk 2: Dominance approach to normative evaluation and inequality appraisal

Nicolas Gravel, Professor of Economics, Aix-Marseille University

The presentation provides a brief summary of the dominance approach to normative evaluation. Normative evaluation is concerned about comparing distributions of various attributes among individuals from an explicit normative standpoint. These distributions of attributes can be viewed as the result of policies. Since normative evaluation is by nature contentious, the dominance approach proceeds by seeking a large consensus of normative points of view concerning the ethical desirability of alternative states of affairs, and by providing easy-to use-criteria that enables one to say when a distribution of attributes is better than another. The presentation starts by recalling and illustrating one of the most basic and well-known tools of analysis provided by this approach in the case of distributions of a single cardinally meaningful attribute – like income – among otherwise homogeneous agents: The Lorenz dominance criterion. The presentation will then present new tools that developed in the recent years to compare income distributions among heterogeneous agents. It will also discuss the case – important in social sciences – in which the attribute that is distributed is qualitative in nature and cannot be measured in a cardinal manner like income is usually believed to be. Finally, the issue of appraising allocations of opportunities among agents will also be touched upon. For each of the proposed tools, several empirical illustrations will be provided.

Nicolas Gravel was born on April 21 1964 in Accra (Ghana) as a Canadian citizen. He obtained a Bachelor degree in Political Science and economics at the University of Montreal in 1986, a Master degree in economics at the same university in 1989 and a Ph. D. in economics at University of British Columbia in 1993. He has been research fellow at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), professor of economics at university of Sherbrooke (Canada), Maître de conférences at the Université de Cergy Pontoise (France) and, after being ranked 4th at the national French Agrégation exam, became professor of economics first at university Paul Valéry (Montpellier III) and then at Aix-Marseille University (after October 2002). He interrupted on two occasions (2004 -2007 and 2017-2021) his professorship at Aix-Marseille University through a deputation at the French Ministry of foreign affairs where he served respectively as research fellow at, and as director of, CSH.  Nicolas Gravel’s main field of expertise is public economics, broadly defined as the branch of economics that examines the causes and the consequences of public intervention in the economic sphere. His recent research themes include the measurement of inequalities, poverty, and social mobility, the analysis of processes of human group formation, tax competition, contribution to public good and decision under uncertainty. He has published more than fifty research articles on these themes in various journals, including the American Economic Review, International Economic Review, Journal of Mathematical Economics, Games and Economic Behavior, Journal of Public Economics, Economic theory, Journal of Economic Theory, and Social Choice and Welfare. He has also co-edited, with Jean-François Laslier, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy, the book “Freedom in Economics: New perspectives in normative analysis” (Routledge 1998). Nicolas Gravel has been also actively involved in the management of research. He has been the director of GREQAM from 2012 to 2017, and has served as an expert on many evaluative boards, including the French HCERES, the Belgium FNRS and the Canadian SHRCC. He is currently the president of the association of Southern European Economic Theorists.


1. F. Andreoli, M. Faure, N. Gravel and T. Kundu “Evaluating Allocations of Opportunities”, Mimeography (available as an AMSE working paper no 2137: under the title  Evaluating distributions of opportunities from behind a veil of ignorance: A robust approach)
2. F. Bennia, N. Gravel, B. Magdalou et P. Moyes “Comparing distributions of body mass index categories” (avec), Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2022, 124, p. 69–103.
3. P. Dasgupta, A. Sen and D. Starett, “Notes on the Measurement of Inequality”, Journal of Economic Theory, 1973, 6, p. 180-187.
3. N. Gravel, E. Levavasseur and P. Moyes “Evaluating Education Systems” , Applied Economics, 2021, vol. 51, p. 5177-5207.
4. M. Faure and N. Gravel “Reducing Inequalities among Unequals”, International Economic Review, 2021, 62, p. 357-404.
5. N. Gravel, B. Magdalou and P. Moyes “Ranking Distributions of an Ordinal Variable”, Economic Theory, 2021, 71; p. 33-80
6. N. Gravel, B. Magdalou and P. Moyes “Inequality Measurement with a Continuous and Ordinal Variable”, Social Choice and Welfare, 2019, 52, p. 453-475.
7. N. Gravel and B. Tarroux, “Robust Normative Evaluation of Socially Risky Situations” , Social Choice and Welfare, 2015, 44 (2), pp.257-282.
9. A. Sen “On Economic Inequality”, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1973, 260p.

Talk 3: Sociology of social inequalities in India: the example of inequalities in higher education

Odile Henry, Director of the CSH and Full Professor of sociology at Paris 8 University

The study of social inequalities in India has given rise to much work in economics (see for example Tilak and Choudhury, 2021). Economic approaches contribute to the construction of global indicators that make international comparisons possible, but also facilitate the construction of a global market for higher education. They offer rich quantitative approaches that provide the indispensable framework for analysing the Indian case. However, with the acceleration of the privatisation and expansion of Indian higher education over the last 20 years, there are still many unexplored angles of analysis that fall within the scope of other disciplines such as sociology/anthropology, history or educational sciences.
We will first present the main data from the work carried out by economists on the transformations of Indian higher education and their effects on social inequalities. Secondly, we will identify the specificity of the contributions that the sociological viewpoint can offer on social and educational inequalities in India and discuss the relevance, for the analysis of the Indian case, of the paradigms developed in other countries, and particularly in France. Finally, we will present our current field of investigation and discuss the relevance of approaches that cross social and spatial analyses of inequalities in schools and thus associate geographers and sociologists.

Odile Henry holds a doctorate in sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (Paris). She is currently the director of the CSH and full professor of sociology at Paris 8 University (Political Science’s department). Her early research explored, from a sociological and ethnographic perspective, the world of large consulting firms in France. She then carried out historical and sociological work on the French origins, at the end of the 19th century, of these new consulting positions. Affiliated to the ENGIND programme (“Engineers and Society in Colonial and Post-Colonial India”, funded by the French National Research Agency, ANR), she was senior researcher at the CSH from 2014 (September) to 2017 (February). She conducted extensive fieldwork at IIT Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh) and focused on the processes of elimination and differentiation of students according to their caste and gender within the IIT and upon entry into the labour market. From 2018 to 2021, she was a member of the ESPI project (funded by the French Development Agency, AFD) on the effects, in terms of social inequalities, of the very strong development of private higher education. Her current research projects deepen this investigation on the privatization of Indian higher education and its effects on social inequalities, based on fieldworks interrupted by the health crisis. From 2018 to 2022, she coordinates with Joël Cabalion, Mathieu Ferry, Clémence Jullien, Jules Naudet and Olivier Roueff the monthly CEIAS-EHESS seminar on “Sociology of Inequalities in India”.


1- “What Does My IITian tag actually mean? The Relationship Between Academic Titles and Job Positions: The Case of Students at the IITL”, (with Mathieu Ferry), in: Caru V. (Ed.), Engineers and Society in India, Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2023.
2- “Assignation statutaire et valeur sociale des diplômes : Le devenir scolaire et professionnel des élèves d’un Institut indien de technologie au prisme des catégories de réservation », (with Mathieu Ferry), in Gadéa C. et Lardinois R., Les mondes de l’ingénieur en Inde aux xixe-xxie siècles, Classiques Garnier, 2022.
3- “When Cracking the JEE is not Enough. Processes of Elimination and Differentiation, from Entry to Placement, in the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs)” (with Mathieu Ferry), SAMAJ, 15, 2017.

Talk 4: Carmageddon

Ranjit Gadgil, Program Director, PARISAR

How the vision of sustainable urban mobility continues to remain out of reach and its implications for people and the planet.
Indian cities are seeing explosive growth; not in terms of people but in the number of vehicles, predominantly private vehicles, that is cars and motorized two-wheelers. The response of cities to this, despite the overwhelming evidence and (some) national policies that suggest the contrary, is to continue to pump resources into expanding road infrastructure. The implications of this approach on the environment and the public in general and the vulnerable road users in particular is dire, with severe impacts on mobility, safety and health. Central to this discourse is the power of the automobile in the imagination of the public, media and decision-makers and the question of legitimacy around the rightful share of road space by different users. To understand the domination of the automobile one must understand the inequalities amongst road users and how our current systems of governance conspire and militate against the rest. We will look at some examples which highlight these struggles, as well as some success stories which may suggest some key areas of investigation going forward.

Ranjit graduated from IIT Kanpur with a Masters in Physics before going to Cornell University for further studies. He then worked as an IT consultant for 7 years before returning to India in pursuit of something more meaningful. As Director at Parisar, he leads the sustainable mobility, air quality and road safety programs. Ranjit has worked on policy and campaigns around Bus Rapid Transport, Urban Street Designs, Urban Bus Services and Metro Rail. He has a special interest in legislation and governance related to transport and transport planning as well as road safety. His passion lies in non-motorized transport, having successfully advocated for the creation of a comprehensive bicycle plan and adoption of a Pedestrian Policy in the city of Pune. He likes riding his bicycle, which he uses as his main mode of transport in the city. He is a member of the city’s non-motorized transport committee.
He was co-author of “Paving the Way for Better Governance in Urban Transport” (Springer, 2019) which extensively deals with public policy related to urban transport in India.

Search OpenEdition Search

You will be redirected to OpenEdition Search