Venkatesh Balasundaram Athreya obtained his B.Tech. degree in Chemical Engineering from IIT Madras in 1969. He subsequently went into the field of Economics, obtaining MS and Ph.D. degrees in Economics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA. He joined the Bharathidasan University at Tiruchirapalli in 1977 as Reader in Economics. He became a Professor of Economics in 1984 and Head of the Department in June 1990. He retired from Bharathdasan University in 2008.
Professor Athreya has held faculty positions/Fellowships/Visiting Scholarships in a number of reputed academic institutions in India and abroad. These include the University of Wisconsin and Bucknell University in the USA, Oxford University and the University of Cambridge in UK, Lund University in Sweden, the Scandinavian Institute of Asian Studies in Copenhagen, IIT, Chennai, MIDS, Chennai and CDS, Thiruvananthapuram. He has also delivered lectures at leading universities and research institutes in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Netherlands, Sweden, UK and USA. He has delivered a number of endowment and other invited lectures in several reputed institutions of higher education in India.
Professor Athreya has written over a hundred research papers including several research reports and monographs. He has authored/ coauthored five books. He has also been a contributor to the popular print media in both English and Tamil. He has participated in several radio and television programmes on social and economic issues.
Professor Athreya has held important academic and administrative responsibilities. He has served as chairperson of postgraduate boards of studies in Economics, member of the Senate, Syndicate and the Standing Committee of Academic Affairs in several Central and State universities. He has been on several central and state government committees. He has also been a consultant to both central and state governments and development agencies of the United Nations and of several countries.
Professor Athreya has been actively involved in the areas of gender, literacy and development as both planner and social activist. He coordinated the mass literacy campaigns-Arivoli Iyakkams-in Tamilnadu in the 1990s. He has been involved in social mobilization campaigns for gender equality and against female infanticide and feticide.
Professor Athreya has held important responsibilities in public life, having been the past President of the All India People’s Science Network (AIPSN) and of the Tamil Nadu Science Forum (TNSF), EC member of Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samithi and EC member of the National Literacy Mission Authority of the Government of India.
Professor Athreya has won a number of awards and honours, the most recent one being the Distinguished Achievement Award for Political Economy in the 21st Century by the World Association of Political Economy in May 2014.