Compliments flooded the social media when Indian-American economist Abhijit Banerjee and two others won the Nobel Prize for Economics for their efforts at alleviating global poverty on Monday. Among them was a tweet from Nirmala Sitharaman, Finance Minister and Mr Banerjee's fellow-alumnus from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
"Congratulations, Abhijit Banerjee, on being awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize for your contribution for easing poverty. Also wishing Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer," she tweeted, hashtagging JNU and NobelPrize2019.
Both Mr Banerjee and Nirmala Sitharaman had completed their post-graduation in economics from JNU in the 80s. While the former went on to win global renown for his research in poverty alleviation, Nirmala Sitharaman wound up helming the finance ministry of the world's biggest democracy.
However, the Harvard-educated economist hasn't been nearly as appreciative of the BJP-led government's policies since it first came to power in 2014. He has questioned many of its decisions over the last few years, including scrapping old currency overnight as part of the demonetisation initiative in November 2016 and allegedly turning constitutional institutions into "zombies".
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also referred to Mr Banerjee's east Indian background in her congratulatory tweet. "Hearty congratulations to Abhijit Banerjee, alumnus of South Point School & Presidency College Kolkata, for winning the Nobel Prize in Economics," she said, going on to term him as "another Bengali who has done the nation proud".
Hearty congratulations to Abhijit Banerjee, alumnus of South Point School & Presidency College Kolkata, for winning the Nobel Prize in Economics. Another Bengali has done the nation proud. We are overjoyed.— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) October 14, 2019
The 58-year-old economist, employed as a professor of economics at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was the joint winner of the Nobel Prize along with his wife Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer for their "experimental approach to alleviating global poverty". He is only the second person of Indian origin after Amartya Sen to win a Nobel in this field.
Abhijit Banerjee currently holds the post of Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 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.
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