Indian Economy Below 2019 Levels, Says Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee

Ahmedabad: Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee said that people in India are in “extreme pain” and the economy is still below the 2019 levels.

Banerjee was virtually addressing the Ahmedabad University students during the varsity’s 11th annual convocation which was also conducted online.

Banerjee shared his observation from a recent visit to West Bengal. He said, “small aspirations” of people have become even smaller now.

“I think that we are in a moment of great pain. The economy is still well below as against what it was in 2019,” Banerjee was quoted as saying by news agency PTI.

“We don’t know how much below, but it is substantially below. And I am not blaming anybody, I am just saying,” said the renowned economist who won the Nobel Prize along with two others — Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer — in 2019.

Banerjee also urged the varsity students not to succumb to pressure from family or society while choosing their career paths but advised them to have the “courage” to do what they really want to do in life.

He also informed the audience that he had spent 10 days in Tihar jail as a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi. “When I was about to leave JNU and go to Harvard, I was in a student demonstration and then I was taken to Tihar jail, and kept there for ten days. When I came out, lots of elders told me that I have ruined my career, and Harvard or the US will never let you in. They thought I should be regretful,” the economist said.

To buttress his point, Banerjee pointed out that two of India’s great filmmakers — Satyajit Ray and Shyam Benegal — were economics graduates but chose a different career path.

“Yet, they did fine in life. So, instead of specific training, what is really important is that you are a lively, thoughtful and open human being. That’s the most important part,” the agency quoted him as saying.

As many as 833 students, including four doctoral students, of the private varsity were conferred degrees during the convocation.

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