Abhijit Banerjee shares his perspective on 'quacks'

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on October 22, 2019 Published on October 22, 2019

Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee is calling on the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, October 22, 2019, in New Delhi.   -  @narendramodi

Subtly warning the media, Abhijit Banerjee, winner of 2019 Economics Nobel Prize said that during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the PM started his greeting by cracking a joke about how the media is trapping Banerjee into saying "anti-Modi things". “The PM will be watching you guys and he knows what you are trying to do,” Banerjee quipped.

Speaking to media later on Tuesday in New Delhi, he said, after this low-down on how the meeting with PM went, he said that he will not be taking any political questions. One of the primary reasons for him visiting India he said was to start a conversation with Ministry of Health’s Indian Council of Medical Research (IMCR) and government think tank Niti Aayog on issues surrounding untrained rural health providers.

Banerjee said that he practices practical economics which is exactly opposite of pure theoretical economics and that is what has led him to win the prize. Sharing an anecdote which changed his perspective towards Indian healthcare scenario, he said he used to go and sit on the door steps of ‘quacks,’ or informal care providers whom he and his co-researchers were training.

“We would go to the government office in Udaipur and ask the officials about these healthcare providers who are not trained. And they said it is an immense problem, but we can never find them because they are always underground. Two weeks later, we went to a house of a rural healthcare provider. He was very friendly, sitting in front of his house with a sign saying he is a doctor," he said adding "We asked him if he had a medical degree and what was his qualification. And his response was he has passed his 12th grade exam but could not get a job, so he took up the job of a doctor. He then brought out his mark sheet and showed that he has passed and his subjects were Geography, Psychology, Sanskrit and History. He was completely upfront about it while the government claimed that it was impossible to find him.”

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Published on October 22, 2019
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