Abhijit Banerjee: The Man Who Works For Change

Abhijit Banerjee is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, his working at this globally-renown institution is not what gained him popularity and respect from people around the world.

Poverty is one of the biggest problems that our world faces today. Globally, there are more than billions of people struggling to get a roof above their heads or food in their stomachs.

In such a situation, it has become absolutely essential for countries to have a developing economic system. One of the people who have been trying to help nations do exactly this is Abhijit Banerjee.

Abhijit Banerjee

He has become an important figure in the world of economics due to the scientific studies he conducts to find a way to reduce global poverty. He founded Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) for doing the same. The efforts of him and his colleagues have won him the Nobel Prize for Economics in the year 2019.

His determination to actually bring about a change in the world is truly inspiring and is definitely something all of us can learn from. So without any further ado, let’s take a look at the life of an actual change maker.

Early Beginnings

Abhijit Banerjee's parents
Abhijit Banerjee’s mother with a picture of his father

It is pretty obvious where this economic genius gets his flair. Both of Abhijit Banerjee’s parents were economics professors. It is clear that their influence is what might’ve pushed the idea of Economics as a career in his mind.

His father was a professor at the esteemed Presidency College in Calcutta and his mother also taught Economics at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences in Calcutta. Abhijeet Banerjee himself studied in one of the most prestigious schools in all of Calcutta, South Point High School.

Abhijit Banerjee's childhood picture
A childhood picture of Abhijit Banerjee from South Point High School

As it is pretty obvious, this Nobel laureate had his roots set deep in this city. He spent most of his childhood and teenage years here. Hence, it does hold a significant place in Abhijit Banerjee’s life because those beginnings were what paved the way to such an illustrious future.

The young Economist rises

Once Abhijit Banerjee finished his school education, he chose to join the very college where his father was a professor, Presidency College. He pursued a Bachelor in Science degree in Economics there.

JNU - The college Abhijit Banerjee studied in
Jawaharlal Nehru University

Once that was over, the bright mind of this economist led him to one of the most prestigious institutions in all of the country, the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi.

It is probably here where he started to gain some insight into what he wanted to do further.  His calling for Developmental and Information Economics may have stemmed here.

His increasing interest is what would have led him to pursue this field further by doing his PhD. This added another world-famous university to his alma meter, Harvard University.

Abhijit Banerjee’s career starts budding

Honestly, seeing these three leading educational institutions in an individual’s educational background is enough proof of how brilliant and intelligent a person he is.

Once he finished his doctorate, he worked as a professor in leading universities like Princeton and Harvard. Soon he settled down in The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He worked tirelessly there to not only gain more knowledge and experience himself but to also ignite the love for Economics in the minds and hearts of the students he taught.

This made him earn various honours and posts within as well as outside the university.

Working for reduction of global poverty

The organization founded by Abhijit Banerjee

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab was basically the brainchild of Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainadhan. It was an organisation primarily set up to work towards reducing global poverty by adapting methods and ways which were scientifically tested to succeed.

All of us at some point may have studied what the difference between arts and sciences is. Science is a solid fact whereas art is more liberal and is based on interpretation. The experimental and scientific approach that the organization took to achieve its aim is pure genius.

The award winning research

Abhijit Banerjee and his colleagues
Ester Dulfo, Michael Kermer and Abhijit Banerjee

Winning a Nobel Prize isn’t really something everybody can do. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work. Banerjee and his team’s efforts are truly noteworthy. The award was well-deserved.

Most of their research was based in various cities inside India. The key focus of their research was domains like education, health, medicine and access to money. They tested how various facilities and ideas could work to eliminate poverty from these places.

Some of the amazing ideas tested out and even implemented are mobile clinics and providing proper incentives to teachers to improve their teaching to students. They even played with the idea of giving incentives to families whenever they came forth to avail the facilities provided for them

More and more poor households started to actually immunise their children since they would get a bag of lentils in return. They took the sad reality that prevailed and turned it into an idea that would benefit everybody.

The difference Abhijit Banerjee made

The research that Abhijit Banerjee and his team conducted benefitted a lot of people. They literally changed the fates of a lot of poor localities and villages within India. Their ideas were also proved to be profitable on a global level when it came to eradicating poverty.

The programs they developed following their research has benefitted more than 400 million people globally. Various organisations have actually developed policies with their studies and experiments as their base.

Slowly but surely, their experiments with poverty have actually started to take steps in eradicating this evil from the face of the earth.

People are getting facilities. Children are getting an education. Small-town businessmen are availing credit at nominal interest rates. And with these minor steps at the minuscule level, the country and the world is paving way for change.

Propagate the change you wish to see

When I look at the way Abhijit Banerjee has dedicatedly worked for reducing poverty, I can’t help but feel awestruck.

All of us have read about the poor somewhere or the other. Right from primary school textbooks to daily newspapers, we have a clear idea of the crisis that exists. Surprisingly, not many of us actually choose to take action.

This is what makes people like Abhijit Banerjee great. He saw what needed to be rectified and is actively working towards doing so. This is what made his cause special.

All of us have causes or issues we are passionate about in this flawed world. Knowingly or unknowingly, all of us also possess the ability to stand up for the causes that we support. Don’t hesitate to contribute what you have to offer to the world out there.

Be the change that you wish to see in the world because trust me, the world does need to change.

Read about a tale of From Rags to Riches; Oprah Winfrey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *