Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday met Dr Abhijit Banerjee amid a debate spurred by the winner of the 2019 Economics Nobel on the condition of India’s economy."Excellent meeting with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee. His passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible. We had a healthy and extensive interaction on various subjects. India is proud of his accomplishments. Wishing him the very best for his future endeavours," PM Modi said in a tweet and also shared a photo of the meeting.
While PM Modi had congratulated the Nobel laureate for his work on poverty alleviation after the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences’ announcement, Banerjee’s comments on the state of Indian economy didn’t go down well with some BJP leaders, including Union minister Piyush Goyal who called him a
"Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel prize, I congratulate him. But you all know what his understanding is. His thinking is totally Left-leaning. He had praised the NYAY scheme effusively, but the people of India totally rejected his thinking," Goyal had remarked when asked about Dr Banerjee's assessment that the economy was in a crisis.
Banerjee had warned that the Indian economy is going into "a tailspin" at a
news conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge on Monday after his prize was announced.
He urged the government to focus on increasing demand rather than on deficit or stability.
When "the economy going into a tailspin is the time when you don't worry so much about monetary stability and you worry a little more about demand, the demand is a huge problem right now in the economy," he said
He criticised the Modi government over the use of data.
"There is an enormous fight going on in India about which data is right. and the government has a particular view of all data that is inconvenient to it is wrong," he said.
Not taking Banerjee’s criticism in its stride,
BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha challenged the Nobel winner to implement his economic thoughts even in one village instead of speaking against the prime minister or the Union finance minister.
"If somebody tries to use the Nobel award in his political interest, people don't find it in good taste. We have seen it in the case of this Nobel prize winner (Banerjee), as also another one (Amartya Sen). We have no objection if they present their thoughts about the country's economy before the people, and there is a debate on it. But if they insult somebody, make filthy utterances about the prime minister, that's not decent," Sinha said.
Banerjee was one of the advisers to the Congress Party in this year's elections in moulding the Nyuntam Aay Yojana (NYAY) programme it proposed to give a minimum guaranteed income to 20 percent poorest people or 5 crore families in India.
"He has worked on NYAY. But what was the outcome? People of the whole country threw it away," Sinha said.
Banerjee, however, said he only provided information and his role was not to make NYAY. He also described the scheme as "not particularly well-designed".
Banerjee recently talked about the state of the economy, taxation, AI and a raft of other topics in an
exclusive interview with CNBCTV18.
The economist won the award this year jointly with his second wife Esther Duflo — a French-American economist — and fellow US professor Michael Kremer.
Announcing the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the research conducted by Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer has considerably improved the ability to fight global poverty.
Born in Mumbai in 1961, Banerjee is one of the world's leading development economists and is presently working as a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Mumbai-born Banerjee received his BSc from University of Calcutta in 1981, his MA from JNU in 1983 and his PhD from Harvard in 1988.
The first person of Indian-Origin to win the Nobel Prize of Economics is Amartya Sen and Banerjee follows in his footsteps by researching poverty-related topics like him.
Banerjee is the tenth person of Indian origin or citizenship to win a Nobel prize.
-with inputs from agencies