Indian-American Abhijit Banerjee Among 3 to Win Nobel: Who is He? 

Abhijit Banerjee was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) & Harvard University.

3 min read

Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee was one among the three people who jointly won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences on Monday, 14 October.

Mumbai-born Banerjee was awarded the prize along with wife Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.”

Fifty eight-year-old Banerjee was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University, where he received his PhD in 1988.

He is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to his profile on the MIT website


The NYAY Connect

Notably, Banerjee was also "one of the economists consulted for formulating NYAY (Nyuntam Aay Yojana)" – the Congress' flagship poverty alleviation scheme introduced in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Not just that, Banerjee, along with Duflo, were two of the 108 signatories to a statement in March 2019, which voiced concern over the "tendency to suppress uncomfortable data" and the stressed on the need to "impress upon the government authorities, current and future, and at all levels, to restore access and integrity to public statistics, and re-establish institutional independence and integrity to the statistical organisations."

The statement had come amid controversy over the GDP data and the change in the base year for the estimation of growth.

Long List of Achievements

In 2003, Banerjee founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), along with his French-American wife Duflo – who is also an MIT professor – and Sendhil Mullainathan, and he remains one of the lab's directors.

He also served on the UN Secretary-General’s High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Banerjee is a past president of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a Research Associate of the NBER, a CEPR research fellow, International Research Fellow of the Kiel Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P Sloan Fellow and a winner of the Infosys prize.

He is the author of a large number of articles and four books, including Poor Economics, which won the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year.

"Why would a man in Morocco who doesn't have enough to eat buy a television? Why is it so hard for children in poor areas to learn, even when they attend school? Does having lots of children actually make you poorer? Answering questions like these is critical if we want to have a chance to really make a dent against global poverty," Banerjee wrote in the book Poor Economics.

He is the editor of three more books and has directed two documentary films.

The Nobel Committee, in a statement on the Economics Prize, said, “The research conducted by this year's laureates has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty. In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research.”


‘Another Bengali Has Done the Nation Proud’

West Bengal and Delhi chief ministers Mamata Banerjee and Arvind Kejriwal both took to Twitter to congratulate Abhijeet Banerjee for winning the Nobel.

The Presidency University also said that it is a proud moment for the institute that Banerjee, one of its alumni and mentor group members, is a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics.

Presidency University feels happy that two of its alumni members, both stalwarts in Economics – Amartya Sen and now Banerjee – have been chosen for the Nobel in Economics, University registrar Debajyoti Konar said.

(With inputs from PTI and MIT website.)

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