Esther Duflo: Nobel Laureate, not W/o
Indian media bloopers and gaffes are usually consumed within the country and restricted by the lack of its global reach. It is difficult when the subject of these errors is a Nobel laureate.
The Nobel Prize for economics was awarded this year to Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer. It so happens that two of them–Banerjee and Duflo–are married to each other. However, several Indian media outlets reported the win as one for ’Indian-origin Banerjee’ and ’wife’. While it might seem to be a spicy tidbit that the two are a married couple, the headlines were called out for their sexist and discriminatory tone and many apart from Indians also noticed it.
The trend was noted in the digital stories of several outlets including The Hindustan Times and The Economic Times. These were not copies from agencies or newswire services that were broadcast to multiple outlets but were authored by the reporters of the media houses since the by-line said bureau or correspondent and there was no mention of agency inputs anywhere. After some outrage on social media, some headlines were promptly changed.
Many of those who highlighted Banerjee’s win as that of the second Indian to be awarded a Nobel for their work in Economics, did not shy away from claiming either Amartya Sen or Banerjee as their own. Banerjee was born and educated in India.
Several outlets who have also carried and reported critical stories against Jawaharlal Nehru University somehow overlooked their past bias and reported his educational qualification. This included pro-establishment media outlets which have painted JNU as a den of Maoist activity. Banerjee has been critical of the BJP-led government for their stance against JNU students, especially those not aligned with the BJP’s political ideology.
Duflo has also been critical of the BJP-led government’s policies such as demonetisation.