Professor Kaivan Munshi has become the first professor from the University of Cambridge to be awarded the Infosys Prize, which aims to elevate the prestige of science and research in India and to inspire young Indians to choose a vocation in research.
Professor Munshi, the Frank Ramsey Professor of Economics, was awarded the prize in the Social Sciences category, in recognition of his analysis of the multifaceted role of communities, such as ethnic groups and castes, in the process of economic development.
The Infosys Science Foundation, the non-profit organisation which bestows the awards, promotes research in science in India, aiming to honour achievement by Indians across a number of fields.
The annual awards are presented in six categories, recognising achievement in Engineering and Computer Sciences, Humanities, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Social Sciences. Awarding its winners a gold medal, a citation certificate and almost £80,000, the Infosys Prizes are among the best-paying academic prizes in India.
The award-winners were selected from over 250 nominations, and chosen by a jury of prominent leaders in each of these respective fields.
Kaushik Basu, Jury Chair of the Infosys Prize and former Chief Economist of the World Bank, said that the jury’s conclusion on Professor Munshi’s award was completely unanimous, and that he was “deserving richly” of it.
On receiving the prize, Professor Munshi said, “I’m completely overwhelmed and I’m really touched. I’ve been doing research in India for over 20 years and I’ve always felt that I was somewhere on the sidelines. I’m really happy and honoured to receive this.”
Professor Munshi’s influential studies have spanned countries such as India, Mexico, Kenya and China and combine historical detail, institutional attention and rigorous data analysis, making his work an extremely important contribution to his field.
In an interview with the Infosys Science Foundation, Professor Munshi explained why the prize was so important to him: “It told me that my work had been recognised in India. I have spent most of my research career working on India and have often felt that my work was less visible.
“I think what this tells me is that I was wrong and that people did actually notice, and that they did appreciate what I was trying to do. It meant a lot to me to hear that.”
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