From the social media trends it appears that Indians are divided as to whether to welcome the fact of a persons of Indian origin winning the Nobel prize in economics. Many Indians, as usual, felt proud – particularly those from Bengal and JNU, while some smelt a conspiracy.
I will remain sceptical. Nobel for economics, peace & literature has often compromised merit for politics. Let’s not forget that this guy is a JNU alumnus and hold our horses before erupting in pride & joy. Amartya Sen has badly hurt those sentiments.— Ramta Jogi (@Rahul_Partagas) October 14, 2019
“Not again”, said those who thought it was a conspiracy. “Another international award for portrayal of poverty in the subcontinent.” Some see it as an attempt by the international anti India conspirators to give fillip to a person who is an apparent heir to Amartya Sen to carry out his anti India rants.
Even though in Part -1 of this series, I brought out the dark side of the Nobel selections, it is too early for me to comment on the merit of Abhjit Banerji and others getting the Economics Nobel prize 2019 for their research work on poverty alleviation.
I feel some people went too far in portraying his getting Nobel in poor light. Some expressed dismay that these people themselves leading capitalistic lives in developed western countries while championing socialist policies. I think there is nothing wrong for people living in rich countries talking about poverty alleviation. In fact if you are already poor what can you do to lift others from poverty. If you yourself are drowning for not knowing swimming and for being in water how can you save another. It is the people who know swimming and who are not yet in water who can save those who are drowning.
It is another story that, questions have been raised with regard to the role of economists post World War -II in contributing anything substantially to public policy. Post World War II, there seems to have been hardly any breathtaking innovation in economic theory. High research activities in economics have been just matters of academic interest without the findings being implementable for the benefit of the society.
Cutting across party lines, JNU students and people of West Bengal felt elated because one of their own won the Nobel. But one thing we are forgetting is that his academic development of Nobel standard happened in US. Had he continued to live in Bengal or had he taken up a job in JNU, it is doubtful he would have flourished so much academically. He is one of those millions of persons of Indian origin who choose to leave India for better prospects in developed countries. In fact this is the case with all Nobel winners of Indian origin in the fields of economics and science. Their development as Nobel winners happened in the academic environs of the West.
Maybe, such occasions should make us retrospect not only about our poverty, but also about our inability to retain talent and highly skilled manpower in our country and give them the environment to flourish.
This problem afflicts not only India, but also all the poor countries. People who could contribute their talents to uplift the conditions of their fellow countrymen become part of the progress story of already developed countries. Thus continues the vicious cycle of underdeveloped/developing countries until the happening of some miracle.