Modi Govt Schemes Like Jan Dhan and Ayushman Bharat Good Ideas in Long Run, Says Abhijit Banerjee


New Delhi: Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee on Saturday said that the BJP-led central government's schemes for the grassroots, such as the Jan Dhan, Ayushman Bharat and the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, are good ideas in the long run.

The Ayushman Bharat scheme in the long run will save the people, said Banerjee, referring to the government's flagship health programme under which 50 lakh beneficiaries have been treated free of cost so far.

The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, which aims to provide universal access to banking facilities to citizens, will get people to save money in the long term, he added.

Banerjee and his wife Esther Duflo jointly won the 2019 Nobel Economics Prize with Harvard's Michael Kremer "for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty". Banerjee was in New Delhi on Saturday where he visited his alma mater, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JN). He is scheduled to visit Kolkata on Tuesday.

As the central government struggles to arrest a slowdown in economic growth, Banerjee said it is time to be aware of the problem and the Indian government is concerned about it. He added that the BJP-led government should bring in such policies that put more money into the pockets of the poor.

Banerjee's comments come amid growth in the country slowing down to a six-year low of 5% in the June quarter, which has been followed by a rash of downward revision in growth estimates to the tune of 70-110 bps, including by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) that now expects the economy to expand by 6.1% as well as by multilateral agencies like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Banerjee, who helped the Congress conceptualise its minimum income guarantee scheme NYAY ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, said his role was to only help out with data. “I only provided the information,” he said. Banerjee said only the central government can implement a scheme like NYAY as the states have their own constraints.

The Congress in its manifesto had promised to deposit Rs 72,000 annually under the scheme to the poorest Indian families.

The JNU alumnus added that citizens of India had voted for the current dispensation because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's popularity.

Union minister Piyush Goyal on Friday had said that people of India have rejected Banerjee’s thinking as he is a 'Left-leaning' economist.

"I congratulate Abhijit Banerjee for winning the Nobel Prize. But, you all know about his thinking. It is left-leaning. He had sung praises for NYAY (Congress's minimum income scheme manifesto promise). The people of India have rejected this thinking," Goyal had said at an event in Pune.