Nobel Laureate Banerjee in JNU: Sitharaman a friend but her policies misplaced

On his first visit to India after winning jointly with two other economists the Nobel Prize for Economics, Abhijit Banerjee visited the JNU campus on Saturday

Nirmala Sitharaman and Abhijit Banerjee
Nirmala Sitharaman and Abhijit Banerjee

NH Web Desk

Nobel Prize winner Abhijit Banerjee received a boisterous welcome at Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Saturday, from where he had completed MA in Economics in 1983.

Banerjee visited the Bramhaputra Hostel, where he had put up while in JNU, and played Table Tennis with students before visiting the canteen. Mobbed for selfies, he obliged as many requests as he could.

This is Banerjee’s first visit to India after the announcement of the Nobel Prize for Economics which he shared with two fellow economists, one of them his wife Esther Deflo. The couple’s jointly written book, “Good Economics for Hard Times” is being released in India next month.

A few extracts from the book reproduced by National Herald can be read here:

Banerjee, who is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusettes Institute of Technology (MIT), is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, according to reports.

While Union Minister Piyush Goyal had trashed Banerjee’s “left leaning” economics (Goyal obviously wasn’t aware that Banerjee advocates the sale of public sector banks), which he said the electorate in India had rejected, the economist on Saturday stood his ground.

He was disappointed at Goyal’s reaction, he said, but was gratified at the same time that the voters had given a hearing to NYAY,a programme he had helped the Indian National Congress to develop and promise a minimum income to the poorest in the country.

He pointed out that he had criticised Congress policies in the past and had spent 12 days in Tihar jail while protesting against a Congress government. He would have offered similar advice if BJP had approached him, he said.

Fellow JNU alumna and Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, he said, had done the smart thing by raising corporate tax in the budget. But it was wrong policy when she succumbed to pressure and rolled back and cut corporate tax. The waiver, he pointed out, was double the amount spent on wages under MGNREGA.

Since the country faced a slump in demand, it was imperative to ensure that people, especially the poor, get more money in their hands, he added.

Sitharaman, he added, was a friend ( she was doing her M.Phil in JNU when he completed his MA) but the policy she is pursuing is wrong.

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Published: 20 Oct 2019, 9:22 AM