Nobel Prize, A Rich Dividend for “Poor” Economist Abhijit Banerjee

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Kolkata: West Bengal can’t keep its calm with another Bengali Economist, Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee clinching a Nobel Prize. Neither can the educators and Alumni association of the now Presidency University can hide their enthusiasm with yet another, alumni of their bagging the Nobel. The first being Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen. Incidentally, both the economists are former students of Presidency College’s Economic department.

Minutes after the names of the Nobel Prize winners for the year 2019 was made public, talking to eNewsroom, mother of the Nobel Laureate, Professor Nirmal Banerjee said, “I happy about both my son and daughter in law winning the Nobel Prize. I feel immensely proud of them.” On being asked, what perhaps made Banerjee interested in devising economic policies designed to alleviate poverty, she said, “Now that’s a vast subject to explores. But I guess the fact that both his parents were professors of Economics, made him develop an interest in the subject. That apart, Abhijit was always interested in people, so working on public-oriented policies appealed to him.”

Meanwhile, his senior from Presidency University, Abhirup Sarkar, an economist with Economic Research Unit of Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata said, “I am really happy about Abhijit winning the Nobel Prize. Given the good work he and his team comprising his wife Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer, it was expected that the trio would be winning the Nobel sometime soon. So, the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise.”

He then added, “He and his team have been working with a new approach to address the economic crisis. Their approach is simple – provide a simple solution to simple problems.” Elaborating on the Banerjee’s work model, he said, “When his team was trying to address the issue of a high percentage of school dropouts in one of the African countries, they divided the students into two groups – one group was provided with shoes, the other wasn’t. It was seen that the students who got the shoes went to school, while those who didn’t preferred to miss classes, as walking barefooted to school would expose them to the risk of contracting Whooping Cough.”

Commenting on their book Poor Economics, Sarkar said, “Their book is pragmatic.”

On being asked if he knows his junior from Presidency personally, he said, “Well he was five years my junior and he also happened to be the son of two of my professors. My interaction with him had been cordial, until I heard him explain his line of work during a conference on Economic policies, in the year 2004. It was here that I got to listen to him as he explained his empirical approach to alleviate poverty from the world. His approach is unique and is being implemented globally to tackle poverty.”

Meanwhile, Bivas Chaudhuri, Secretary, Presidency Alumni Association said, “Presidency Alumni Association Calcutta, takes enormous pride in the selection of Abhijit Banerjee as one of the recipients of Nobel Prize for Economics 2019. An alumnus of 1978-81, Abhijit is the second Indian recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economics, after Amartya Sen, both students of Presidency College, now a University. We congratulate both him and his wife.”

The 55-year-old economist and now nobel laureate is also an alumnus of prestigious Jawahar Lal Nehru (JNU) and Harvard University. Abhijit has also been main architect of Congress’ NYAY scheme, announced by grand old party, if comes to power during the Lok Sabha Polls 2019.


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