Department of Economics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jain (Deemed-to-be University) hosted a two-day International Conference on Dimensions of Poverty and Happiness in Economy on 9-10 September 2017 at Ecumenical Christian Centre, Whitefield in collaboration with Bangalore University, Focolare Movement and Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam.
More than 200 delegates from India and abroad attended the conference and several innovative research papers were discussed. Dr. Xavier V K, Professor of Jain (Deemed-to-be University) in his opening remarks presented an overview of multiple models of driving the economy from short-run fluctuations to sustainable long-term equilibria for growth, development, and happiness.
The most interesting part of the conference was, it provided a platform to investigate the nature and causes of the wealth which affect the happiness of people, institutions, and economy. The conference also triggered a debate about the state of inequality in India where the benefits of higher growth have not been spread over to all the classes.
Dr. Liguino Bruni in his keynote address mentioned that economists have been getting interested in building models for happiness only in the last decades or two. Such models are differently hypothesized against neoclassical economists who were interested in maximisation strategy using instruments of rationality.
Mainstream economists now recognize there is no reason to continue economic modeling based on prior assumptions that do not help to understand and predict even simple economic actions and choices. Their aim was to find operational solutions capable of effectively quantifying the concept of quality of life. Economists like Sen encompassed new indicators for happiness like democracy, social capital, health, rights, freedom, working conditions and fundamental capabilities in the category of quality of life.
Real GDP growth rate is a sine qua non to alleviate poverty and eradicate unemployment. However, stories of crony capitalism have led to jobless growth with joyless life. Development economists have moved from growth strategies to multiple dimensions of leisure, sustainability, environment and more inclusion. While economic growth is essential, ethics, equity and building capabilities for performance and governance are conditions required to attain gross national happiness.
Increasing the national product is significant for employment and consumption per se, but its impact on distribution, resource exhaustion, social cost and negative spill-overs throw concerns for inter-generation equity across the growth trajectories of economies. The welfare paradigm aims at moving towards new contours of well-being without altering net gains to none.
Many luminaries from Academy such as Dr. G K Karanth, Dr. Mathew C, Dr. Muraleedharan, Dr. Martin Patrick, Dr. Vishak Verma presented their models for happiness in the technical sessions of the conference. Dr. Liguio Bruni, Professor of Economics at the Lumsa University, Rome, and at the Sophia University of Loppiano in Florence delivered the keynote address. R S. Bala Subramanyam, Advisor CSR projects at Birla Corporate delivered the inaugural address.