Thank you PM, says Abhijit Banerjee; calls meeting Modi ‘unique experience’
Abhijit Banerjee, the Indian-origin professor of economics at MIT awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in economics, called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday. PM Modi, who tweeted a photograph of his meeting with the Nobel laureate, showered praises on the Indian-origin professor whose critical analysis of the government’s economic policies had earlier drawn a sharp reaction from a section of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
“His passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible. We had a healthy and extensive interaction on various subjects. India is proud of his accomplishments,” tweeted PM Modi soon after what he said, was an “excellent meeting”.
Abhijit Banerjee later said PM Modi spoke about “his way of thinking about India, which was quite unique”.
Watch l ‘PM spoke about his idea of India, reforming bureaucracy’: Abhijit Banerjee
“One hears about policies but one rarely hears about the thinking behind it. He talked about the way he sees governance in particular, why in some sense, may be the mistrust of the people on the ground colours our governance and how it therefore, creates structures of elite control over the governance process: not a responsive government. And in that process, he 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,” Abhijit Banerjee said.
“I think it is a very important point for India to create a bureaucracy that actually lives on the ground and gets its stimulus from how life is on the ground. Without that, we get an unresponsive government,” he said, thanking PM Modi for taking quite some time off for the interaction.
Abhijit Banerjee was last week named for the Nobel prize along with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer. The Nobel committee had recognised the three economists for “their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty...which has transformed development economics”.
PM Modi had then congratulated him for his “notable contributions in the field of poverty alleviation”.
But Banerjee’s comments on the Indian economy had irked many in the ruling BJP. Responding to the Nobel laureate’s views that the Indian economy was doing “very badly” and “going into a tailspin”, Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal had said that he did not take Nobel laureate’s criticism of economic policies and the economic slowdown seriously “as he belongs to the Left ideology which has been rejected by India”.
BJP secretary and former West Bengal unit president Rahul Sinha followed up on Goyal’s jibe with a barb linking the Nobel Prize to the Indian-origin economist’s marriage to a French-American economist. News agency Press Trust of India reported on Monday that the Bengal BJP had told its leaders to back off because needless attacks on Banerjee wouldn’t endear the party to people in the state where the party is working hard to expand his footprint.
In an interview to Hindustan Times over the weekend, Abhijit Banerjee had underscored that India needs to embrace deep liberalism, which Mahatma Gandhi symbolised, premised on the belief that in the end everybody has something good in them.
Banerjee has also sounded a note of caution for policymakers who believe that the solution to low economic growth can be found in cutting back on taxes and redistribution. He has also stressed that the government should collect a lot of economic data to ascertain the severity of the demand-driven slowdown, which Banerjee believes has reduced growth in India, and put money in the hands of poor people without worrying about fiscal deficit and inflation at the moment.