NOBEL INDIA … Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee and PM Modi discuss on economics of poverty


NEW DELHI: Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the PMO here on Tuesday, occasioning a discussion between the two on various matters, and the PM later tweeted that they had a “healthy and extensive” interaction. “India is proud of his accomplishments,” the PM said.
Stated Banerjee: “It was a privilege to have this meeting with the PM. The PM was kind enough to give me quite a lot of time and talked about his way of thinking about India. This was quite unique because one hears about policies, but one rarely hears about the thinking behind it. The PM talked about the way he sees governance in particular and why the mistrust of the people on the ground colours our governance and it therefore creates structures of elite control over the governance process, not responsive government.” 

Abhijit Banerjee with wife Esther Duflo
Added Banerjee: “In that process, he also very nicely explained how he is trying to reform the bureaucracy to make it more responsive, to understand the ways in which people’s views need to be taken into account and expose them more to the realities on the ground.”

Banerjee won the Nobel in Economic Sciences this month along with his wife Esther Duflo for their research and findings titled, Experimental Approach to Alleviating Global Poverty.
It would appear that the meeting went off well. A week ago, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had expressed the view that Abhijit Banerjee was a left-leaning economist. Banerjee is attached to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a privately funded research entity based in Cambridge, which enjoys a great global reputation.
Days ago, the Nobel laureate was critical of the Modi government’s steps like Demonetisation and said that it seriously affected the economy, which is “slowing down,” and qualified the statement with an addition that he did not know how much. Banerjee also was of the view that the NPA problem in relation to India’s public sector banks needed to be tackled in a better and more effective manner. At Tuesday’s media meet too, he noted that the institutions like the Central Vigilance Commission should not be allowed to interfere with the functioning of the banks, as it would ultimately lead to a total collapse of these banks. He also proposed that the stakes of the government in PSU banks should be brought down to below 51 per cent.
Abhijit Banerjee had earlier hailed the UPA government’s rural employment guarantee scheme, which he noted had helped the rural folk to find jobs and reduce poverty. He has also said the huge pumping of money into the highways development sector by the former Vajpayee government had been of help to the rural sector. He noted that the national sample survey has, in its latest report, noted a fall in consumption rate in the rural sector – meaning less of money in the hands of the rural folk. He suggested that steps like the rural employment guarantee scheme should be continued.

Prime Minister Modi told the Nobel Laureate that he was not able to make much headway in implementation of government programmes due to the problems with the bureaucracy, which is not sufficiently responding to the needs of the people on the ground. The PM said he intends to change the scenario for the better. –IHN-NN


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