Abhijit Banerjee Gets Nobel in Economics.

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Introduction in Bengali. — অর্থনীতিতে আর এক বাঙালির নোবেল প্রাইজ — কলকাতার সাউথ পয়েন্ট স্কুল ও প্রেসিডেন্সি কলেজের ছাত্র অভিজিৎ ব্যানার্জী এ বছর অর্থনীতিতে নোবেল প্রাইজ পেলেন দারিদ্র্য দূরীকরণে বিজ্ঞানসম্মত গবেষণার প্রয়োগের জন্যে। তিনি দিল্লির জওহরলাল বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের ছাত্র, এবং বর্তমানে মার্কিন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রের এম আই টি নামক বিখ্যাত শিক্ষাপ্রতিষ্ঠানের সঙ্গে যুক্ত। অভিজিতের স্ত্রী এস্থার ডাফলো’ও যুগ্মভাবে এই বিশাল পুরস্কার পেয়েছেন। এছাড়া হার্ভার্ড ইউনিভার্সিটির মাইকেল ক্রেমার এই পুরস্কার একসঙ্গে পেয়েছেন। আজকের এই বিজ্ঞানবিরোধিতা ও কুসংস্কারের অন্ধকার দিনে অভিজিৎ একজন বাঙালি হিসেবে আমাদের গর্বিত করেছেন। আসুন, আমরা তাঁকে ও তাঁর স্ত্রী এস্থারকে অভিনন্দন জানাই।

Nobel Prize!! — Abhijit Banerjee of MIT, alumnus of my beloved city Calcutta’s South Point School and Presidency College, has won the Nobel Prize in economics. My wife and I also were students at Presidency College (she did her bachelor’s from there, and I did my master’s: back in those days, some of the best students in Calcutta went to Presidency College for their bachelor’s degree).

This is wonderful news! Abhijit Banerjee is also an alumnus of JNU, which is a premier progressive academic institution in India. Along with Amartya Sen, Abhijit Banerjee becomes the second Nobel Prize recipient in economics — from West Bengal, India; Mohammed Yunus from Bangladesh also received a Nobel for his implementation of an economic model in the society. However, it was a Nobel Peace Prize.

Dr. Banerjee received the incredibly prestigious prize together with his wife Dr. Esther Duflo who is also at MIT, and Dr. Michael Kremer of Harvard — for their work on poverty alleviation. I have learned a little bit about their work — especially of Drs. Banerjee and Duflo, which I will share via Facebook live today. Keeping in mind the enormous happiness, pride and excitement the news has created in Calcutta, Bengal and India, this particular discussion is going to be in Bengali.

Their now-famous book Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty (2011) tells us about poverty and its possible alleviation in developing countries such as India, Morocco, Kenya, Indonesia or Bangladesh. Their approach is different from “big idea” approaches we’ve seen before; rather, it looks at the problems and prospects from a grassroots perspective, with an open mind to successes and failures. That, along with their scientific interpretations, makes their work so understandable and pragmatic.

Drawing on a rich body of evidence, including numerous controlled trials, Banerjee and Duflo explain why the poor need to borrow in order to save, why their children go to school but often don’t learn, why they miss out on free immunizations, but pay for drugs that they do not need, and why they start many businesses but do not grow any of them. I have found their explanations down to earth, as I have experienced some of it in my own life, while working with the poor communities both in India and USA. Banerjee and Duflo retold life’s real experiences in an academic, scientific way.

Banerjee, along with Amartya Sen, have strongly opposed the pro-rich economic policies in today’s India, and repeatedly warned about out-of-control corporate capitalism that is destroying India’s one billion poor.

I shall write more. Again, congratulations to these young, brilliant minds.

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