Abhijit Banerjee, The Man Who Took On Global Poverty And Won A Nobel


Abhijit Banerjee has written four books and several acclaimed research papers until now.

New Delhi: 

Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee created headlines across the world today when he, along with two other world-renowned experts in field, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics for “their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”.

According to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, their experiment-based approach had transformed development economics over the course of two decades, turning it into a “flourishing field of research”. Among the other winners are Michael Kremer and Esther Duflo, who also happens to be Mr Banerjee’s wife.

The Indian-American economist, born in Mumbai in 1961, currently holds the post of Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He had founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab along with Esther Duflo and renowned academic Sendhil Mullainathan in 2003, and serves as one of its directors even now.

The foundation of the 58-year-old economist’s distinguished career was laid in India, when he completed his education from the University of Calcutta and the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, in the early 80s. He then went on to earn his doctorate from Harvard University in 1988.

Mr Banerjee has headed the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development — a non-profit group dedicated to encouraging research and scholarship in development economics — in the past, besides being a research associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research; research fellow with the Centre for Economic Policy Research; international research fellow with the Kiel Institute; fellow with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society; and a winner of the Infosys prize, among other achievements. Additionally, the MIT website credits him with serving on the United Nations Secretary-General’s high-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

Mr Banerjee has also written four books and several acclaimed research papers. “Poor Economics”, which he co-authored along with Ms Duflo, won the Goldman Sachs Business Book Of The Year award in 2011. Translated into more than 17 global languages, it dwells on the effectiveness of solutions to global poverty using an evidence-based randomised control trial approach.

Mr Banerjee married Esther Duflo in 2015. She is also a noted economist, having received several prizes such as the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences in 2015; the A.SK Social Science Award in 2015; Infosys Prize in 2014; the David N Kershaw Award in 2011; a John Bates Clark Medal in 2010; and a MacArthur “Genius Grant” fellowship in 2009. Born in 1972, she is the second woman and the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Soon after Mr Banerjee won the Nobel Prize, an outpouring of compliments from political leaders and fellow-academicians flooded social media. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted it as a “big day for every Indian”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pointed out that he is an alumnus of the South Point School and Presidency College in Kolkata.

(With inputs from PTI)

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