NOBEL … Indian Abhijit Banerjee shares Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences with wife, another researcher


NEW YORK:  American-based Indian-origin academician and researcher Abhijit Banerjee is winner of this year’ Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. Banerjee shared the award with his French-origin American wife Esther Duflo and American economist Michael Kremer for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” The prize, officially known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences, was not instituted by founder Alfred Nobel. It was established by Sweden’s central bank and is awarded in memory of Nobel.

Abhijit Banerjee was born of Bengali parents in Kolkata. His parents are Nirmala Banerjee, who was professor of economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata; and Dipak Banerjee, who was professor and head of department of economics at Presidency College, Kolkata. Abhijit was first married to Arundhati Tuli Banerjee, a lecturer of literature at MIT. They have a son, but the couple later divorced. Later, Abhijit married Esther Duflo, his co-researcher and professor at MIT.

Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee are professors at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Born in Mumbai, the 58-year-old economist is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the MIT. He studied at the University of Calcutta and Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University before receiving his PhD in 1988 from Harvard University.
In 2003, Abhijit Banerjee founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab(J-PAL) along with Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan. He remains as one of the lab’s directors. Abhijit has also served the UN Secretary General’s high-level panel of eminent persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda.
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer pioneered an approach to poverty reduction that was based on carefully designed experiments that sought answers to specific policy questions, according to the prize committee. Duflo is the youngest scientist and second female to be awarded the prize. Kremer, a professor at Harvard, did his research on the subject in Kenya. He used field work to test how school results could be improved in western Kenya during the mid-1990s.

As a direct result of their research, more than 5 million Indian children had benefited from remedial tutoring in schools, while many countries had introduced heavy subsidies for preventive health care, according to a statement from the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize.
Peter Fredrikkson, chairman of the economic sciences prize committee, said their work tested the impact of specific interventions in areas such as agriculture, health and education. The experimental approach has “reshaped development economics, had a clear impact on policy and improved our ability to fight global poverty,” he said.

Duflo, 46, said: “The essence of our research is to make sure that the fight against poverty is based on scientific evidence.” She also said that she hoped the award would inspire other female economists to continue working, “and men to give them the respect they deserve, like every single human being.”
The American economist Elinor Ostrom was the first woman to be awarded the prize. Ostrom won in 2009 for an analysis of how people in local communities share natural resources equitably and sustainably without central regulation. She died in 2012.

Banerjee, Duflo and Kremer will share a prize of 9 million Swedish kronor ($9,14,207). Last year, Yale University professor William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, of New York University’s Stern School of Business, received the award for addressing questions around sustainable economic growth.
Rabindranath Tagore was the first Indian to win the coveted prize for Literature in 1913 “because of his profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.

C V Raman won the prize for Physics in 1930 “for his work on the scattering of light and for the discovery of the effect named after him.”

Indian-American Har Gobind Khorana won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1968 along with two others for their “interpretation of the genetic code and its function in protein synthesis.”

Mother Teresa, a Roman Catholic nun of Albanian origin and Indian citizenship who founded ‘The Missionaries of Charity’ was awarded the Peace Nobel in 1979 in recognition of her “work in bringing help to suffering humanity”.

Indian-American Subramanyan Chandrasekhar won the 1983 Nobel Prize for Physics with William A. Fowler for “theoretical studies of the physical processes of importance to the structure and evolution of the stars.”

The Nobel for Economic Sciences in 1998 was won by Kolkata-born economist Amartya Sen “for his contributions to welfare economics.”

India-born Venkatraman Ramakrishnan won the 2009 Nobel Prize along with two others in Chemistry “for studies of the structure and function of the ribosome.”

Sixty-year-old Kailash Satyarthi shared the Nobel Peace prize for 2014 with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

Sixty-year-old Kailash Satyarthi shared the Nobel Peace prize for 2014 with Pakistani teenager Malala Yousafzai for “their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.


Between 1901 and 2018, the award has been given 590 times to 935 laureates and organisations. The prize includes 9 million-kronor (USD 918,000) cash, a gold medal and a diploma. –Agencies, IHN-NN


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