Aus citizen rooted to her land of birth and its economic issues - that is perhaps the best way to describe Gita Gopinath as an individual. As the first woman Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the second Indian (by birth) after Raghuram Rajan, one of the first things she did just before officially taking charge at the IMF over a year-and-a-half ago was to join hands with Rajan and 11 other economists to prescribe an "economic strategy for India". Whether politicians listened to their advice is a matter of academic research, but Gopinath is busy advising countries, about the economic conditions that are prevailing or are likely to prevail. The latest was her analysis of the economic performance of countries during the Covid-hit April-June 2020 quarter, where India with a 24 per cent dip in GDP, performed the worst among major economies.
Gopinath, whose research interests are in international finance and macroeconomics, is on leave of public service from Harvard University's Economics department where she is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics. Born in Mysore, she studied in Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi School of Economics, University of Washington and Princeton University, before moving to Harvard as a teacher.
The world was already gearing up for a global economic slowdown when she began her IMF stint. A year later, its a Covid-hit globe, which is demanding crystal-gazing to read its fortunes. For a professional economist, the times ahead are tough.