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PM to Banerjee: Media making you say anti-Modi things

Last updated on: October 22, 2019 16:57 IST

Nobel Laureate Prof Abhijit Banerjee on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi started the meeting by cracking a joke about how the media is "trying to trap me to say anti-Modi things."

IMAGE: Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee in New Delhi on Tuesday. Photograph: ANI Photo.

Prof Banerjee, who met Prime Minister Modi earlier in the day, told media-persons: "The PM started by cracking a joke about how the media is trying to trap me to say anti-Modi things. He is watching TV. He is watching you guys. He knows what you are trying to do." 

Terming his meeting with Modi as a unique experience, he said the prime minister spoke about governance and bureaucracy. 

 

"It was a privilege to have this meeting with the prime minister. He was kind enough to give me quite a lot of time and to talk a lot about his way of thinking about India, which was quite unique," he said. 

"He (Modi) talked about the way he sees governance in particular ... and how it, therefore, creates structures of elite control over the governance process," added Prof Banerjee. 

He also said the Aayushman Bharat scheme was much needed and added that we need to find ways so that people don't lose all their assets when somebody in the family gets sick. 

"I think it is very needed. It does something very important which is it deals with the fact that healthcare expenses wipe families out. It does something very important there. I think it is something that we need. We need to find ways so that families don't lose all their assets when somebody in the family gets sick. So, I think it serves a very important gap in our economic structure," he said while addressing a press conference in New Delhi. 

Banerjee also flagged concerns about the banking crisis in India and called for aggressive changes to deal with the situation. 

There is a need to bring in important and aggressive changes to deal with the crisis, he said during interactions with the media. 

Banerjee said there is need to bring down stake of the government to below 50 per cent in banks so that the decisions are taken without fear of Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). 

The renowned economist also revealed how the prime minister is taking steps to reform the bureaucracy. 

"He also very nicely explained how he is trying to reform bureaucracy to make it more responsive to understand ways in which the people's views need to be taken into account and expose them more to the reality on the ground," said the Nobel Laureate. 

"I think it is a very important point for India to have a bureaucracy that lives on the ground and get its stimulus from how life is on the ground. Without that, we get an unresponsive government," he signed off, saying a thank you to PM Modi for the unique experience. 

During their meeting earlier in the day, Prime Minister Modi said that Prof Banerjee's passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible and the country is proud of his achievements. 

"Excellent meeting with Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee. His passion towards human empowerment is clearly visible. We had a healthy and extensive interaction on various subjects. India is proud of his accomplishments. Wishing him the very best for his future endeavours," the prime minister tweeted alongside a photo of the meeting. 

Prof Banerjee, an Indian-origin economist and an academic professor, was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences along with his French-American wife Esther Duflo and American economist Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty." 

The 58-year-old Kolkata-born economist is currently the Ford Foundation International Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US. 

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