Nationalism diverts attention from issues like poverty: Abhijit

Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee said strident nationalism diverts attention from pressing issues like poverty, especially in a country like India. The Indian-origin economist jointly won the 2019 Nobel Prize with Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer.

According to an interview published in India Today, Banerjee also said that some sort of minimum income guarantee scheme is absolutely necessary for the country.

Banerjee stressed the need to have a space in which there can be disagreement on the fundamental ideas of what India constitutes, what is nationalism and what is economic progress.

On the question of JNU being targeted by some as a space for so-called anti-national elements, Abhijit replied “Yes, I do think that it is important for us to preserve the space for disagreement in our society. I think JNU is seen as a space for “treasonous thoughts” rather than space for legitimate disagreement. I think our entire society is worse off for that. I think it is very important – even when I do not agree with people’s views – to have a space in which there can be disagreement on the fundamental ideas of what India constitutes, what is nationalism, what is economic progress. I think we need disagreement on these things because I think that disagreement makes us wiser and more able to deal with a very complex and fast-changing world.”

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Abhijit said, “I think the idea that high tax rates create extreme disincentives, there is no evidence for in my view. I think that high tax rates make people want to hide their money, but I think the government is getting better at finding.”

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