Indian-American Abhijit Banerjee has won the 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics jointly with his wife and economist Esther Duflo and another economist Michael Kremer for their work on “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Banerjee is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the US-based Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He was born in 1961 in Mumbai and was educated at the University of Calcutta, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University.
His Time at Tihar Jail
However, one lesser known fact remains about Banerjee -- the 10 days at Tihar jail in Delhi.
In 1983, Banerjee was part of a group of students at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) who were arrested and jailed for 10 days for "gheraoing the vice-chancellor's house" for expelling the president of the student's union.
In an article published in the Hindustan Times in 2016, he said, "We were beaten (I was) and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped thank God but not before we spent 10 days or so in Tihar."
His Work For The Poor
In 2003, he 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. The 58-year-old economist remains one of the lab's directors, according to the MIT website.
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.
Banerjee The Author
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. He also served on the UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the website said. Duflo, born 1972 in Paris, received her PhD in 1999 from MIT.
First Published: IST