Recently, Abhijit Benerjee along with his wife Esther Duflo and colleague Michael Kremer has got the Nobel Prize in Economics. It is a proud moment for all of us Indians irrespective of whether we agree with his views or not. Although an American citizen, he is of Indian origin.
As soon as the award was announced, many Indians across the party lines have congratulated him. Rahul Gandhi congratulated Banerjee and tweeted, “Congratulations to #Abhijit Banerjee on winning the Nobel Prize in Economics. Abhijit helped conceptualize the NYAY that had the power to destroy poverty and boost the Indian economy. Instead, we now have the Modinomics, that’s destroying the economy and boosting poverty.”
But, this did not go down well Commerce & Industries Minister Piyush Goyal. While addressing a media conference, he said, “ Abhijit Banerjee has received Nobel Prize. I congratulate him. But you know his thinking; it is left-leaning. He has supported NYAY effusively. But, Indian masses have rejected the same. I am proud that an Indian has got the noble prize but there is no need to agree with him, especially when people have rejected him already.” (Abhijit Banerjee ji ko Nobel Prize mila hein, mein unko bodhai deta hoon. Lekin, unke samaj ke bade me to aap sab jante hein. Unke jo thinking hein, who totally left-leaning hein. Unhone NYAY ko samarthan diya tha aur NYAY ke bare me bade gun gang gaye the. Bharat ki janta ne totally reject kar dia unki soch ko. Mujhe garv hein ki ek Bharatiya ko Nobel Prize mila, lekin unke jo kahi hui baat hein, use jaruri nehi hein ki humko agree karna chahiye khas taur pe jab janta ne unke suggestions ko reject kar dia to mujhe lagta hein ki hume unhe swikar karne ki koi aboshwakta nehi.)
As soon as Piyush Goyal uttered these words, Leftists and liberals started bashing him. However, a close look would give the impression that he is measured in his words. He did not disregard the achievements of Banerjee, rather expressed his dissent. It is pretty alright to disagree with an individual, even if he is a Nobel Laureate.
However, another section got a chance to discredit not only the Nobel Laureate but also the Nobel Prize. Some social media trolls started questioning the credibility of the Nobel Prize. Some would argue that it is a biased award. Only Europeans get the prize. Some others have claimed that Abhijit has got the prize because he has acquired American citizenship. These reasonings are bizarre because, without a substantial contribution to one’s field, nobody can ever receive Nobel.
Some others again started arguing that it is not even a Nobel Prize. Because it was established much later. Yes, it was established only in 1968, but this does not mean that the award is not to be called Nobel Prize in Economics. By this logic, one can say that the Nobel Peace Prize is not a Nobel because it is distributed in Oslo (Norway) while all others are distributed in Sweden.
It has become a trend now in India that we often tend to discredit awards when they are conferred upon somebody who we disagree with. A few weeks earlier Ravish Kumar, a journalist was awarded Roman Magsaysay Award, which is known as Asia’s Nobel Prize. Then also the same social media Twitterati had started to discredit the Roman Magsaysay award.
We may not disagree with some people or their views but this does not mean their views have no value at all. The world has progressed because of the contribution of distinguished personalities. It is not necessary that we need to agree with them always. But, it is not plausible that we discredit them either. If you pull down the contribution of Nobel laureates like Elbert Einstein, Marie Curie, and C. V. Raman, then much of the world’s progress would not have been possible.