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  Opinion   Columnists  19 Oct 2019  Reading a waste of time, meet the real RCT hero

Reading a waste of time, meet the real RCT hero

Tellis is an academic, a journalist, an editor and a writer on LGBT and other minority issues
Published : Oct 20, 2019, 12:05 am IST
Updated : Oct 20, 2019, 12:05 am IST

Literally. Why can’t you economists write about my friends Ambani and Adani and how well they are doing?

Abhijit Banerjee
 Abhijit Banerjee

Dear Abhijit,

I write to you as a new fan. I have to confess that I was really annoyed when I heard that you won the Nobel. To begin with, you went to JNU, a University I have been trying to destroy for six years now. Then you were Bengali and I thought you were another Amartya Sen, as if one of him was not enough. Third, I was told you write about poverty and I am so done with poverty. I am, as you know about the new India, the shining India where we are getting rid of the poor. Literally. Why can’t you economists write about my friends Ambani and Adani and how well they are doing?

But then I asked my IT cell to look you up and start trolling you as we do with anyone on the Left, or in the Centre, or on the Right that is not us, and they kept coming back with material that confused them and me.

You wrote a piece about the RSS being sophisticated. Thank you, Sirji, and for having RSS friends. I want to be your new RSS friend. You called us intellectuals and you are right about my being intellectually voracious, though, Sir, your analogy between us and the Communists was off the mark. We are way better and more successful. Sirji, you are wrong to hang out with stupid people like Ram Guha. Reading books get you nowhere. I did not get where I am by reading books. Thank you for recognising that I appeal only to the highest sentiment. If you think I am surrounded by fools, you come and join me sir. I need advisors like you.

You gave an interview in which you said you are anti-reservation, that we need to focus on the private sector, that government employees are overpaid and farmers pampered and you are so right. Though I did not like your point about legalising campaign funds during elections at all.

You wrote a piece trying to understand why poor Indian men are horny and rape women. That was a truly saras piece, bhai, though I did not appreciate your trying to understand my arch-rival Mamata Banerjee. That stupid woman does not understand how close she is to me and my positions on everything though, between you and me, she is the only woman I know who truly understands fascism and implements it well. But, your point in the article that all these upper caste upper class people showing affection in public produces rape is so true. I have also felt this desire. Women should be equally accessible to all. Please come and join my Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme as advisor. We need feminists like you not like Kavita Krishnan or Neha Dixit. You understand rape like neither of them ever will.

But, most importantly, you work sounds so random, its beautiful. Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) sounds so cool and so much better than RTIs. I am not sure I fully understand what they mean but my Economics team (which I share with Ambani and Adani) has been giving me some examples. So, (1) an RCT where one of the “treatment groups” is incentivised to pay bribes for a driving licence, even though they may not have the requisite driving skills (one of the co-authors is one of the three co-founders of J-PAL) (2) a more recent one where one of the treatment groups (a random sample of agricultural labourers in Orissa) is offered real work at a wage below the local market wage (forget about the minimum wage), some in private and some in public, to see whether they are more likely to accept the low-wage offer (i.e. break worker solidarity) when the offer is made in private. Yaar, these are such good ideas but I have to tell you that I have been an RCT maahir for some time now. Meet me sometime and I will share with you my bank of RCTs.

Technically, I should be getting the Nobel for Economics but khair, yaar, you got it. Now put in a word for me with the Committee to which you will now have insider access.

Chal, maljo bhai, I keep coming to America to meet my friend Trump (you will love him and you are unfair in your comparing him to me — he is a walking, talking RCT, bhai!).

See you soon, and oh, congratulations, bhai! Though I think I deserve that award. I have been doing this shit way before you even went to Presidency College.

Much love

Tags: abhijit banerjee