In an exclusive interview with NDTV, India-born Nobel winner Abhijit Banerjee has said that the "economic crisis" has to be taken seriously. Mr Banerjee had recently remarked that the Indian economy is in a state of crisis, prompting an attack from Union Minister Piyush Goyal, who said he is "Left leaning". Mr Banerjee said Mr Goyal's remark questioned his professionalism. He also said he is not "partisan" in economic thinking. Mr Banerjee, who had helped the Congress in formulating its income guarantee promise, said he had also worked in Gujarat when PM Modi was the Chief Minister. This year's Nobel Prize in Economics has been awarded to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer.
Here are the highlights of Abhijit Banerjee's interview with NDTV:
- (On getting Nobel prize) If you told me that in the next 30 years, it may come, I would say, probably. This year, if you say it would come, I would say, you're kidding.
- PM has many things to do. I am sure he has better things to do. (On delay in PM Modi's congratulatory tweet)
- You have to take it seriously that the economy is in crisis. If you look at that one number that jumps out at me from the analysis of the NSS (National Sample Survey) data, it is the average consumption in India. We are slightly lower today than it was in 2014-15. That's an unprecedented event.
- Whether or not the PM intends it, people seem to be looking over their shoulder. I think it's important to reassure the people that mistakes are part of decision-making. People are a little bit frozen about decision-making.
- Institutions have been reduced to zombies. In the last days of the UPA, the institutions were all aggressive. It was probably a good idea in the long run, but in the short run a lot of business people were upset about it. What happens now is that these institutions exist, but they don't take decisions anymore.
- If the BJP government, like the Congress party, had asked what were the numbers on the fraction of people under a particular income, would I have not told them the truth? I would have told them exactly, I would have been as willing. In terms of being a professional, I want to be professional with everyone.
- I am not partisan in my economic thinking. We work with any number of state governments, many of which are BJP governments. We worked with the Gujarat Pollution (Control) Board when Gujarat was under (Narendra) Modi, and we actually had an excellent experience. I would say that they were willing to engage with the evidence and they implemented policies that followed with that experience.