Devaki Jain graduated in economics and philosophy from St Anne’s College, Oxford. She is now an Honorary Fellow of the college. From 1963-69, she was a lecturer in economics at Miranda House, Delhi University. She moved on from teaching to fulltime research and publication as the director of the Institute of Social Studies Trust.
Over the course of her career, Devaki Jain founded a wide range of institutions such as the Development Alternatives for Women for a New Era (DAWN), a Third World network of women social scientists, and the Institute of Social Studies Trust (ISST), a research centre in Delhi.
She has been a member of several policy making bodies in India and abroad, including the State Planning Board of Karnataka; the erstwhile South Commission, established in 1987 under the chairmanship of Dr Julius Nyerer; the Advisory Committee for UNDP Human Development Report on Poverty (1997), and the Eminent Persons Group associated with the Graca Machel Committee (UN) on the impact on children of armed conflict.
She is a recipient of the Padma Bhushan (2006) and an honorary doctorate from the University of Westville, Durban, South Africa.