Saturday, March 18, 2023
HomeIndiaEconomist Abhijit Banerjee is the sixth Nobel winner with a Kolkata connection

Economist Abhijit Banerjee is the sixth Nobel winner with a Kolkata connection

Abhijit Banerjee and his wife Esther Duflo are two of three winners of the 2019 Nobel for Economics.

Text Size:

Kolkata: Abhijit Banerjee, who won the Nobel Prize for Economics this year with his French-American wife Esther Duflo and American Michael Kremer, is a native Kolkatan who was born and raised in the City of Joy.

The trio won the Nobel for their “experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”. With the award, Banerjee and Duflo become the sixth husband-wife couple to win the Nobel, the first being physicist-chemist Marie and Pierre Curie in 1903.

The son of two economics professors, Nirmala Banerjee and Dipak Banerjee, he studied at the city’s premier South Point School and then attended Presidency College (now university).

Kolkata, in fact, has a deep connection with the Nobel Prize, with at least five winners of the Nobel Prize having links — by birth or work — with the West Bengal capital.

Five of six Indian Nobel laureates have Calcutta Chromosome. And Kolkata still preserves the structures associated with their life and work.

1. Rabindranath Tagore: In 1913, Rabindranath Tagore became the first non-European, non-White to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Tagore, who was largely home-schooled and despised formal education, reshaped Bengali and, by extension, Indian literature.

He belonged to one of the most aristocratic families of what was then Calcutta, known as “Thakur Bari”.

According to the Swedish Academy, which gives out the literature Nobel, Tagore got the award for Geetanjali, his landmark collection of poems that is full of “profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse, by which, with consummate skill, he has made his poetic thought, expressed in his own English words, a part of the literature of the West”.

2. C.V. Raman: In 1930, Chandrashekhara Venkata Raman, who won the award for physics, became the first person from Asia to win a science Nobel.

Raman completed his higher studies at Presidency College in erstwhile Madras and, in 1917, was appointed a physics professor at the University of Calcutta.

Between 1907 and 1933, he was associated with research at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in Calcutta’s Bowbazar area. It is during his stint here that he discovered the celebrated “Raman Effect”, for which he was awarded the Nobel. Raman also founded a ‘Calcutta South Indian Club’ in southern Kolkata.

3. Mother Teresa: Mother Teresa, the Albanian-born Christian missionary known for her work among the poorest of the poor, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.

In 1950, she had founded the Missionaries of Charity (MoC), a Roman Catholic congregation that is active in several countries. Through this agency, she worked among the hopeless, hapless and helpless in and around the city. She drew her last breath in Kolkata on 5 September 1997. The MoC is still headquartered in the city.

4. Amartya Sen: Prof Amartya Sen was awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1998 for his research on welfare economics.

Sen, who was born in Santiniketan, Bolpur, was schooled at Dhaka in pre-Partition days. After Partition, he was brought back to Santiniketan. He went on to attend Presidency College, where he completed a BA in Economics. Despite the fact that he has worked mostly in the UK and the US since 1972, Sen keeps coming back to his roots in Kolkata and Santiniketan.

5. Ronald Ross: Ross, who won the Nobel for medicine in 1902 and was the first Briton to get this award, had discovered the malarial parasite and proved that malaria was transmitted by mosquitoes. Ross, a member of the British-era Indian Medical Service, arrived in Kolkata in 1898, where he continued his research on the disease.

Also read: The Epic City: A hurried rediscovery of Kolkata


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. People can pass screwed opinions on Calcutta, its present state and other things as much as they wish. However, their opinions CAN NEVER change the bitter truth that it has been home to, not just one, but 6 Nobel Prize Winners.
    Whoever is ranting against Calcutta, just take this fact on your face, accept the fact and move on in your miserable life!

  2. Most Bengalis think the world revolves around them. For them, Kolkata is the best city in the world. If one makes any comments on Calcutta’s public transport, people will protest and say, ‘Are you from japan? ‘

    • There’s a reason behind that. The solecistic class wont understand this; otherwise the city wouldn’t have been ahoy as the Cultural Capital of India

    • For an uninitiated like you, let me inform you that Calcutta still has got the most diverse forms of public transport in the entire nation with affordable fares.
      Accept this bitter truth and move on in your wretched life!

  3. Amazed to read the comments of “erudite” citizens – speaking for or against the article. Can’t we do anything, rather discuss anything without polarising ourselves? An article gives information – so if there is any wrong knowledge sharing, correct the same. But this pro and against Bengali mud slinging is really unbecoming of “erudite” people. Request u all to exercise your judgement

  4. Je bangali gulo nijeder somalochona kore nijeke proud mone kore sei sob bejonma gulo ke tar baba noy, onno keu poida kore chilo

    • Akdom thik. Kichhu Bangali achhe, Bangali ke gaalmondo na korle bhaat hojom hoyna eder. Chhagoler soptom sontaan sob.

  5. Strange article. Not sure if all the people listed above have a Kolkata connection as the author fantasises and if so winning a Nobel prize is anyway connected. True that native Bengalis are a cerebral people and make excellent theoreticians. However when it comes to putting theory into practice, the result is Waste Bengal.

  6. Please correct the facts about Ronald Ross. He made the discovery of Anopheles mosquito being the carrier of the malarial parasite while working in the Secunderabad cantonment in Hyderabad under the British Army medical services, not in Kolkatta.

  7. Bengalis are desperate to stay relevant, their poverty stricken economy, massive public debt, hooligans notwithstanding, one way of doing this is to claim success and bask in others sunshine, it shows a deep inferiority complex, a need to stay relevant in a fast changing India, claiming charlatans like Teresa, who tarnished Calcutta’s name forever in the west, or even tenuously claiming links CV Raman, a South Indian . Bengal is still in denial mode, 100 years later, that it’s now a least developed poverty struck blackHole

Comments are closed.

Most Popular