Interview Insights: Dr Kiriti Kanjilal

Dr Kiriti Kanjilal is the Assistant Professor of Economics at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi (IIIT, Delhi). He completed his integrated masters in economics from the University of Hyderabad and his PhD from Washington State University. Dr Kanjilal’s research interests include macroeconomics, behavioral economics, industrial organization, and environmental economics. As the youth of today are often doubtful of opinions and news, here are some opinions of credibility. Catch a conversation with Dr Kanjilal below to explore the nuances in the field of economics.

10 January 2020

As an economics professor, what are your expectations for students at the beginning of the semester?

At the beginning of any semester, all one needs to do is have an open mind. I would also always encourage students to ensure that they don’t lose sight of the fundamental question/intuition, as economics can suddenly become very mathematical very fast. Math is a phenomenal language to represent a model/idea, but one should not lose sight of the idea itself and get caught up in the details. However, the only way to do this is to ensure you are comfortable enough with the math, so that you can allow yourself to think beyond it. This is also probably the biggest transition you will see in college relative to high school. If you choose to go further and do a masters and a PhD, this will become more and more evident.

What about economics fascinates you the most?

Economics is actually a very diverse subject, and covers an array of questions. One of the pillars of the subject is the “decision science” aspect of it. A lot of microeconomic theory is essentially a study of how individuals make decisions. This is the most interesting aspect for me. More specifically, my interests are in applied game theory, industrial organization and behavioural economics.

What is your view of the Indian economy in the present day? What changes do you envision in the coming decade?

This is always a very tricky question, and it’s hard to have a monolithic view of the Indian economy. The diversity, not only in the goods but the systems of production themselves is so vast that it really depends on which specific aspect we’re thinking about. However, it is broadly true that the economy is in a substantial slowdown, with employment is formal sectors especially suffering. Again, it’s always hard to predict a decade of changes, especially large structural changes. Nonetheless, we can first hope for a substantial recovery, and in addition, can also hope for stronger institutions to add efficiency to the system, especially with the use of technology.

What is it that you dislike about your profession? If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be and why?

I wouldn’t say it’s something I dislike, but it is true that economists can do more. A lot of economics research done in India is based on theories designed for very different settings (generally the USA). Empirical studies and methods are motivated by economic theory, and perhaps we need to think more about the generality of certain economic theories before transplanting them to say, an Indian setting, and using them to directly do empirics. Having said that, I am nitpicking, and economists, both empiricists and theorists, have done immensely well over the last few decades to use the discipline to answer a wide variety of questions about health, education, development, the environment, etc.

How would you describe your teaching style in one word/sentence?

As interactive as possible

What is the best book you would recommend?

This really depends on the course, but make sure you study your Hal Varian and Simon and Blume well!

If you had to choose an alternate career, what would it be?

Honestly, I’d love to be a footballer, but I’m terrible at it.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to cook.

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