Abijit Banerjee and his wife Ether Duflo, recipients of this year’s Nobel for economics for their work on poverty alleviation, have worked with the Tamil Nadu Government in this area, according to a senior official of the Finance Department.
Finance Secretary S Krishnan, who worked with the couple since 2013, has sent a congratulatory message to them. Recalling his association with them, Krishnan has said Abijit and Esther as directors of Abdul Latheef Jameel Poverty Action Lab ( ( J-PAL), USA, has done 15 projects with the Tamil Nadu Government since 2014 after it signed an memorandum of understanding. “This is the most extensive involvement compared to any other State Government in India” in terms of overall systematic research.
The Banerjees were present in subsequent discussions with the Tamil Nadu Government. Along with former Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, who is daughter of former RBI Governor Venkitaramanan, they did a study on the elderly. It is an ongoing study and it will be completed soon.
They have also done studies on how to reduce incidence of non-communicable diseases and the behaviour of people affected by them. Also studied were how to prevent anaemia among pregnant women and how to encourage breastfeeding during first six months.
“These engagements were mutually beneficial”, according to Krishnan. Gautam Parel, a senior policy manager at J-PAL, South Asia, worked with the Banerjees in one project targeting the ultra poor.
Jyothi Prasad Mukhopadhya who worked with the couple for two and half years as research associate, found them passionate about uplifting the poor.