Published: 17th October 2019
Slow Clap: Why we love Abhijit Banerjee and his love for gareeb India
Kolkata-born American Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel Price in Economics. And despite the fact that he left our shores ages back we still love him dearly. And post-Nobel fame, we always will
The internet is a powerful tool but when you give it to Indians there might be some interesting outcomes that can make you question life as you know it. Dr Abhijit Banerjee won the Nobel in Economics with Dr Esther Duflo and Dr Michael Kramer for their work to alleviate poverty.
The world applauded but once it came to India it turned into a debate between fish and dhokla — none of which the poor get to eat much of, I am sure. But can you blame us? We just love our food. Bengalis felt proud that he is a son of the soil — some went on to count the number of Nobel Laureates who are bongs and said that fish-eating bongs are better than dhokla-eating Gujjus. If you haven't seen the tweets with #fishvsdhokla and the like, then shame on you.
The couple after a hearty meal of dhokla and fish curry
No one cared that Abhijit left India decades ago and moved to America. And he probably eats dhokla with fish curry for lunch. But for us to be privy to those details, we may potentially have to check with his wife Esther Duflo, who like all women married to Indian men ought to cook three meals for him every day of her life. Nobel Prize sharing and all be damned. We did mention her and other dude who got the Nobel as Abhijit Banerjee & wife + random Economist dude in most stories anyway.
Abhijit went to the States in 1988 and seldom looked back. But he never lost touch with his roots. He researched and wrote about poor India while experiencing the perils of a low-income economy first hand — from Harvard, Princeton and MIT with his French wife, Esther Duflo. Who is a great economist herself and does not need to be mentioned as Abhijit's wife — the Indian media made that mistake and drew flak from all over the world, I won't. But what the world did not understand is that we were just adhering to our traditions — we don't say the wife's name in the same sentence as the husband's (it is a thing, please revise your values if you don't remember). It's just parampara. But all that aside, the dynamic economist couple has done pathbreaking research on eradicating the plague that is poverty. This too, proves that Abhijit is truly American. He loves the gareeb India and is so fascinated by it that he spent his whole life thinking about it.
The coupling India's growth engine needs but never got
Abhijit Banerjee is an intelligent man, maybe one of the best minds of a couple of generations around him but is he trustworthy? He went to Presidency College and then JNU. He also gheraoed the VC. The internet raised a very valid question. How can we trust someone who probably was among the predecessors of the Tukde Tukde gang? He hasn't shown much promise of change yet. Only recently he devised the NYAY plan for Pappu. If he really wanted change why not show his plans to Modiji? That would have had some actual effect. Has he not seen how Swachh Bharat, Digital India and ODF India turned out? Modiji would have made his plans help India, that too in record time. Abhijit could have featured in one of the Mann ki Baat sessions as well.
Alas. If only he understood.
He may not have dissed GST, demonetisation and India's grand march towards becoming a 5 gazillion-dollar economy in 2025.
The nerve. Next time, he won't be allowed to attend Howdy, Modi.
(The writer is a failed Economist who targets other Economists because he is jealous of how much attention (and action) they're getting on social media without trying. He also likes fish and dhokla, but it is unclear whether he has consumed both together. The vitriolic views expressed are his own attempt at being satirical — which are as effective as his grades in his Development Economics paper)