How Abhijit Banerjee's Nobel Prize started a Twitter war over dhokla

Twitter is a strange place. The world’s most powerful man often uses it to warn his rivals and support former spokesperson on dancing shows, while people find the most inane reasons to fight about.

And that happened again when Abhijit Banerjee’s Nobel Prize in Economics started a culture war of sorts.

After his win, a Twitter user wrote: “ Dear Dhoklaeaters We gave you: 6 Nobels 1 Oscar for Lifetime Achievement National Anthem Vande Mataram We eat fish and motton. Beef and pork. Keep your Dhokla, Khandvi & thepla away from us. GET OUT.”

This led to a flurry of angry rebuttals, and not just by Gujaratis who felt that mocking one’s cuisine was a below-the-belt jibe.

Banerjee is the fourth Bengali Nobel Laureate, excluding the Albanian nun Mother Teresa, who many consider an honorary Bengali. Others are Rabindranath Tagore, Amartya Sen and Bangladeshi Mohammad Yunus.

Indian-origin MIT professor Abhijit Banerjee, his wife and one-time Ph.D student Esther Duflo, and Harvard professor Michael Kremer have been awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their work which has “dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice,” it was announced on Monday.

Born in Mumbai in 1961, Bannerjee is one of the leading development economists and is presently working as a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Author of a large number of articles and books, Banerjee graduated in science from the Calcutta University in 1981 before moving to the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi from where he completed his MA in 1983. He received his PhD from the Harvard University in 1988.

In 2003, he founded the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) along with Esther Duflo and Sendhil Mullainathan, and he remains one of the lab’s directors.

Banerjee is a past President of the Bureau for the Research in the Economic Analysis of Development, a research associate of the NBER and a CEPR research fellow, international research fellow of the Kiel Institute, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Econometric Society, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow and a winner of the Infosys prize.

He is the author of a large number of articles and four books, including “Poor Economics”, which won the Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award in 2011.

He is the editor of three more books and has also directed two documentary films. He also served on the UN Secretary-General’s high-level Panel of Eminent Persons on the post-2015 Development Agenda.

With inputs from agencies

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