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Abhijit Banerjee went to sleep on hearing news

THE ASIAN AGE. | RAJIB CHOWDHURI
Published : Oct 15, 2019, 1:27 am IST
Updated : Oct 15, 2019, 1:27 am IST

Technology (MIT) professor is the second Bengali after Prof Amartya Sen to win the Nobel in Economics.

Abhijit Banerjee
 Abhijit Banerjee

Mumbai-born economist Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee could not believe that he had won the Nobel Prize for Economics. He was so stunned on learning that the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences had announced his name among the list of three winners, which includes his wife Esther Duflo, that on hearing the news he went to sleep for about 40 minutes. The Massachusetts Institute

Technology (MIT) professor is the second Bengali after Prof. Amartya Sen to win the Nobel in Economics.

Speaking to a Bengali TV channel from the US, he said, “When I heard the news, my first reaction was the thought that they may ask me to go to some places on certain dates. So I thought, ‘Oh, I have to change so many tickets.’ My second reaction was to sleep a bit because many calls would start coming soon. So after getting the news on phone, I quickly went to sleep, which lasted for around 40 minutes.”

On getting the Nobel for his “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”, Prof. Banerjee said, “I never imagined I would get it. I had rather thought that if I were to get it, it would happen 10 years later, after many more highly talented people who are yet to get it. They are not only elder to me but also more successful than me. So in that sense it is indeed an utter surprise to me.”

Born in a family of economists, Prof. Banerjee, who studied at South Point High School and then graduated from the Presidency College, said, “I have been conducting the research since 1995. Esther joined me in late 1990s. For my research work I personally travelled to Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Indonesia, India and China to collect resource materials. I also undertook research in West Bengal many times. West Bengal’s history pulls me because it comes to my mind when I think about the questions people ask often.”

Prof. Banerjee underlined, “Before starting research work, some time is needs to be spent on unstructured thoughts on the subjects. In that process I found that a lot of resources come up from my childhood memories, of growing up in West Bengal.”

Prof. Banerjee had not yet spoken with his mother.

“I am yet to have a word with my mother. Some friends called me up though. But the moment I think of calling up my mother, another call comes,” he said.

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