Economics Nobel for Kolkata Boy, Alumnus of JNU, Presidency College

Indian-origin, Mumbai-born economist Abhijit Banerjee has won this year’s Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in alleviating poverty, making him the second Indian after Amartya Sen to receive the honour.

An authority on global poverty, Abhijit Banerjee carried out his research emphasising the human condition in his home country, and in the process, borrowing from classical studies on the topic in the 1960s.

Banerjee, an alumnus of Presidency College, Kolkata, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Harvard University, is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He won the coveted prize along with two others, his wife and research collaborator Esther Duflo and Michael Robert Kremer. French-American economist Duflo is co-founder, along with her husband Banerjee, of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She is also the Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics at MIT. The US-born Kremer is currently the Gates Professor of Developing Societies at Harvard University. Banerjee and Duflo are co-authors of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, a widely discussed book on innovative ways to fight global poverty.

Banerjee is the first alumnus of JNU and second of Presidency College (Sen being the first) to win the Nobel, also known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.  Banerjee, now 58 and an acclaimed economist, was born to economists—mother Nirmala Banerjee, an economics professor at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Kolkata and father Dipak Banerjee, a professor and the head of the Department of Economics at Presidency College.

Banerjee, who attended South Point School in Kolkata, did his Masters’ at JNU and PhD at Harvard, went on to teach at Princeton University, his alma mater Harvard University, and later, at MIT. Banerjee is the third non-White male to win the top prize (the others are Arthur Lewis and Amartya Sen). Duflo is the second female winner of the prize and the youngest at 46 (Elinor Ostrom was the first winner and she was 76 when she won it in 2009).

First published in Open

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