Wet dhotis, satin shirts and pujor bhog
In his monthly 'Tasting Economics' column for The Times of India, Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, co-founder and co-director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), discusses gift-giving, what gifting means for the giver and the recipient and its implications for economists. Abhijit provides anecdotal family memories, a poignant message from a popular poem about puja and a case from a Yale professor of economics to examine the social constructs of gift-giving.
In the piece, Abhijit writes, 'We give gifts to signal that we care, that we thought of the person, of what she would like and the way her face would light up when she realises that someone had thought hard about her preferences. Economists recognise that sending the right signal is important, say when you want a job or have something to sell. But when we think of how we build and maintain our social connections, our instinct is to think about personal likes and dislikes, rather than as a central strategic element of our economic lives, as it would be for an anthropologist. Hence, the focus is on the happiness from possessing the gifted object, rather than on what the act of gifting does to our relationship.'
As a gift to readers, Abhijit shares his family recipe for sheera.