Thiruvananthapuram: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Monday appointed Kerala adviser and Harvard professor Gita Gopinath as its chief economist.
The move can only be described as the perfect paradox since it was the same Communist government that was once waging a war against the international economic organisation.
The 46-year-old Gopinath was the “third woman ever and the first Indian after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to receive such an outstanding honour” when she was appointed permanent professor at Harvard University's economics department in 2010.
However, when the CPM-led LDF government in Kerala appointed her as financial adviser to chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan in 2016, not many were impressed.
Besides being unaware of her international reputation, several people in the Communist circles were not happy that Gopinath headed the economics department at Harvard. The only solace for the critics was the fact that she belonged to a family of Communist leaders from the party’s forte, Kannur.
The 46-year-old was the younger of two daughters of TV Gopinath — a farmer and entrepreneur — and VC Vijayalakshmi. The entrepreneur is the son of TC Govindan Nambiar, a relative of noted Communist party leader TC Narayanan Nambiar, and PV Lakshmi Amma, who is related to stalwart of Indian Communist party AK Gopalan.
Gopinath’s father, who had worked with a private firm in Kolkata and Delhi, now lives in Mysuru with his family where his wife runs a pre-primary school.
The new IMF chief economist had worked in the team of veteran communist KR Gowri Amma when she was the minister for agriculture. The Nelliyampathy orchid garden in Palakkad was set up under the leadership of Gopinath, who was a National Horticulture Board member.
The 46-year-old did her schooling from Kolkata, Delhi and Mysuru. While she completed her Bachelors in Economics from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi, she did her Masters in Economics from Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington. She went on to pursue her Doctorate in the subject from Princeton University. She teaches International Finance and Foundations of International Macroeconomic Policy. She is also the managing editor of the Review of Economic Studies and was chosen as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2011.
Among the several positions that she holds are Research Associate with the National Bureau of Economic Research and Research Program Member at the International Growth Center at LSE (London School of Economics) and Oxford. She also served as a member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for the Finance ministry.
She lives in Weston, Massachusetts, with her husband Iqbal Dhalibal and their son Rohil.