Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday praised economist Abhijit Banerjee after he met the Nobel laureate. The prime minister said the country was proud of Banerjee’s accomplishments.
“Excellent meeting with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee,” Modi tweeted after the meeting. “His passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible. We had a healthy and extensive interaction on various subjects. Wishing him the very best for his future endeavours.”
Following the meeting, Banerjee said it was a privilege to meet the prime minister and hear his views on the country. “He talked about the way he sees governance in particular, and why, in some sense, the mistrust of the people on the ground colours our governance,” Banerjee told ANI. “How it, therefore, creates structures of elite control over the governance process.”
Banerjee said the prime minister explained how he was attempting to reform the bureaucracy to make it more responsive, taking citizens’ perspectives into account. The economist said that it was important for the country to create a bureaucracy that was aware of the ground realities.
The meeting comes at a time when several Bharatiya Janata Party leaders, including Union minister Piyush Goyal, have criticised Banerjee. Last week, Goyal questioned his work for the Congress’ NYAY programme, and said the economist’s views were Left-leaning and that people had rejected the scheme.
BJP National Secretary Rahul Sinha had said people whose second wives were foreigners win the Nobel Prize in reference to Banerjee’s win. Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer won the 2019 Nobel Prize in economics “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” Duflo, who is married to Banerjee, is the second woman to receive the award.
The Nobel laureate has described the personal criticism as upsetting and highlighted that he had worked with parties across the political spectrum. “I feel what’s not helpful in that kind of comment is more the questioning of my profession or our professionalism,” he said. “I think the reason we were given this prize is partly because we are professionals.”
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