New Delhi: Indian-origin MIT professor Abhijit Banerjee, his wife and one-time Ph.D student Esther Duflo, and Harvard professor Michael Kremer have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their work which has “dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice,” it was announced on Monday.
Born in Mumbai in 1961, Bannerjee is one of the leading development economists and is presently working as a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Author of a large number of articles and books, Banerjee graduated in science from the Calcutta University in 1981 before moving to the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi from where he completed his MA in 1983. He received his Ph.D from the Harvard University in 1988.
Banerjee’s “experimental approach to alleviating poverty” has helped policy-makers in India make targetted intervention for better results.
“Abhijit Banerjee’s path breaking work has also benefited lakhs of children studying in Delhi government schools,” Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said.
Congratulating Banerjee for his work, the Chief Minister in a twitter post said that one of Delhi government’s most important education reforms, ‘Chunauti’, has transformed classroom teaching in government schools.
“It is based on the model developed by him,” he said.
Economists said that Banerjee’s model has been used in various states such as Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.
“It’s really a proud moment. The kind of commitment and seriousness they have shown for understanding poverty is very useful for countries like us,” said N.R. Bhanumurthy of the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP).
Economist and former chief statistician of India Pronab Sen said that if the population is homogeneous, the experimental approach to alleviating poverty has wider applicability.
“But if there is a large heterogeneous culture, then its applicability becomes limited,” Sen noted.
Announcing the Prize in Economic Sciences 2019, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said that the research conducted by this year’s laureates has considerably improved the 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,” the Academy said.
In 2003, he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) along with Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan, and he remains one of the lab’s directors.
Banerjee is a past President of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a research associate of the NBER and 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 award in 2011.
He is the editor of three more books and has also directed two documentary films. He also served on the UN Secretary-General’s high-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda.
In 2011, Banerjee was named one of Foreign Policy magazine’s top 100 global thinkers. His areas of research are development economics and economic theory.
Noted historian Ramachandra Guha said that Banerjee’s ground-breaking scholarship apart, he is also a superb cook and a connoisseur of Hindustani classical music.
“He represents the best of Indian culture and scholarship, while always being open to what the world has to offer,” Guha wrote on Twitter while congratulating the Nobel laureate.