Jagdish Natwarlal Bhagwati is an illustrious American national economist and author who is currently professor of economics and law at the Columbia University. He is a famous advocate of free trade and his research interests commonly relate to international trade.
Bhagwati was born on 26 July 1934 in Bombay, India to a Gujarati family; he spent his early years in Bombay where he received his BA from Sydenham College. Bhagwati later travelled to England to further pursue his education; he studied at St Johns College, Cambridge where he received his second BA in economics. He went on to MIT where he got his PhD in economics; here he was advised by Charles Kindleberger and his thesis was titled ‘Essays in International Economics’. After completing his PhD, Bhagwati returned to India to teach at the Indian Statistical Institute in Calcutta. This was only for a brief period and Bhagwati moved to Delhi to teach at the Delhi School of Economics soon after. In 1968 he rejoined MIT, this time as a full professor, and by the time he left, Bhagwati was Ford International Professor of Economics.
Currently, Bhagwati is professor of economics, law and international affairs at Columbia University and Senior Fellow for International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations. In the past he has held several important positions internationally, namely special adviser to the UN on globalization, he has been economic policy adviser to Arthur Dunkel (the director-general of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) and external adviser to the World Trade Organization. He has also worked as a member of group appointed by the director-general of the WTO on the future of the WTO and the advisory committee to Secretary-General Kofi Annan on The New Partnership for Africa, and was also a part of the Eminent Persons Group under the leadership of Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso on the future of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.
Jagdish Bhagwati has submitted pieces in almost all renowned international newspapers and journals including the Wall Street Journal, Times Literary Supplement, Foreign Affairs, The New Republic, and New York Times Book Review, . He has also frequently appeared on TV shows such as Charlie Rose Show, PBS NewsHour, Bloomberg and CNN. Bhagwati is a champion of free trade and is described as ‘the most creative’ international trade theorist of his generation. He has published several books including “Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries” and “Termites in the Trading System: How Preferential Agreements Undermine Free Trade”, Termites in the Trading system discusses the harmful effects for preferential trade agreements while Why Growth Matters describes the beneficial effects of economic growth in India and how they can be imitated in other developing countries.
Throughout his lifetime, Bhagwati has been recipient of several awards and honorary degrees. The more notable of his awards include the Mahalanobis Memorial Medal from Indian Econometric Society (1974), Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1982), Seidman Distinguished Award in International Political Economy (1998), Padma Vibhushan Award (2000), Lifetime Achievement Award from Indian Chamber of Commerce (2004) and Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star (2006). He is currently married to and lives with his wife, Padma Desai, Professor of Comparative Economic Systems at Columbia University.