As another Indian-born American wins the coveted Nobel Prize, India flies high with pride. With exceptional educational qualifications ranging from Calcutta University, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University, Abhijit Banerjee has set a standard for all aspiring economists. The 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics has been rightfully shared with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.
As the co-founder of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Banerjee’s work in development economics has garnered a lot of appreciation from all over the globe. He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. As Bengalis all over the world take immense pride as someone from their community takes the prize home, after Tagore, at a parallel world, his college stories come to light.
When the JNU issue was at its peak, Banerjee wrote a piece in Hindustan Times in February 2016, “It was the summer of ’83 and we, the students of JNU, had gheraoed the vice-chancellor in his house for the umpteenth time. The pretext was the expulsion of the president of the student union, the Kanhaiya Kumar of the day, for reasons that escape me now.”
He was thrown in Tihar jail in an attempt to murder, for 10 days. Back in the day, Congress had consulted Banerjee for NYAY or Nyuntam Aay Yojana, their flagship social welfare programme. The scheme promised to give 20% families in poorest of the poor category ₹72,000 each annually.
Moreover, the recent debate over a depreciating economy and the government’s reluctance and inaction has led to several deliberations. At a press conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Banerjee said, “The Indian economy is going into a tailspin; it is the time when you don’t worry so much about monetary stability and you worry a little bit more about demand, I think demand is a huge problem right now in the economy.”
Banerjee’s win comes along with a bit of criticism towards the media houses by the general public. Esther Duflo is the second woman to win a Nobel Prize in Economics on her work also on an experimental approach to alleviating global poverty. Moreover,she is the co-founder of Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab along with Banerjee. However, her credentials have been taken down to ‘his wife’ by several media organisations. The debate of a woman at an equal position as that of a man still stings.
Banerjee’s win beings about a strong vision for India as a country stricken with poverty as a third world developing country. The couple’s achievements and efforts towards eradicating poverty come with a glimmer of hope towards a better India, more so, due to Banerjee’s roots.