Abhijit Banerjee: Was beaten, sent to Tihar Jail for ten days while studying in JNU

Updated: Oct 15, 2019, 15:27 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

The economist was beaten and sent to Tihar jail after participating in a protest against the expulsion of the then student body president.

Abhijit Banerjee. Pic courtesy/AFP
Abhijit Banerjee. Pic courtesy/AFP

Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee made the country proud by winning the accolade with his wife Esther Duflo. His work focused on experimental measures to alleviate global poverty. The Kolkata-born economist completed his MA in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi in 1983 after which he moved to US to pursue PhD from Harvard University.

The university, when learnt of its aluminus' accomplishment has been celebrating, with some of his professors and peers knowing that Banerjee’s valuable contributions in the field would be recognised.

But little did anyone know that the Nobel laureate had spent ten days in Tihar Jail while studying in the university! The economist, who is the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as seen in his profile on the MIT website, confessed in an article in Hindustan Times that he was beaten and sent to Tihar jail after participating in a protest in which they gheraoed the then Vice-Chancellor. The reason for the protest was said to be the expulsion of the student body president.

Also Read: Indian American Abhijit Banerjee wins Nobel Prize for Economics 2019 along with two others

"The police arrived in the late afternoon. They broke down the vice-chancellor’s house, “rescued him" and arrested a bunch of us. Another 300-odd courted arrest. We were beaten (I was) and thrown into Tihar jail, charged not quite with sedition, but attempt to murder and the rest. The charges were eventually dropped — thank god — but not before we spent ten days or so in Tihar,” the Nobel laureate wrote in an article in the daily back in February 2016. The article reflected the then JNU row that saw the arrest of then student body president Kanhaiya Kumar.

The Nobel laureate became the tenth Indian to win the coveted prize, joining the list of other laureates like Rabindranath Tagore, CV Raman, HG Khorana, Mother Teresa, S Chandrasekhar, Amartya Sen, V Ramakrishnan and Kailash Satyarthi.

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