Indian-born Gita Gopinath is the first woman chief economist in IMF
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Indian-born Gita Gopinath is the first woman chief economist in IMF

Indian-born and eminent economist Gita Gopinath, who is also the economic advisor of Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, is going to be the first woman chief economist of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Gita Gopinath was appointed as the IMF’s chief economist by IMF MD and Chairwoman Christine Lagarde a week ago. Gopinath will soon take over as the economic counsellor and director of the IMF's Research Department after current chief economist Maurice Obstfeld retires in coming December. Earlier, former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan had also held the same position in IMF.

Gopinath is currently the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University in Boston, with her research focused on international finance and macroeconomics. Before joining Harvard, she was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business.

With this new job role, Gita Gopinath has to step down as the economic advisor of the Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan. As Gita has a strong communist family background which extends upto AK Gopalan, the legendary communist leader who is fondly called ‘AKG’, she voluntarily helped Kerala’s CPIM-led government as economic advisor. As an academic, she has served as economic adviser to a number of large financial institutions and governments. Kerala CM Vijayan in a press conference on 3 October had hinted about Gita’s impending resignation from the post, saying “She(Gita) is being appointed as IMF’s chief economist. So naturally, she will not be able to continue as an advisor to the government”.

Gopinath is the second Indian and first woman appointed to head the research department, which publishes the IMF's flagship publication, the World Economic Outlook. This is one of the most read documents containing in-depth analyses of the global economy.

Born in Mysuru in 1971, Gopinath was raised in India, but is now a citizen of the United States and an overseas citizen of India. Her father TV Gopinath, a Keralite, 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.

Gita is married to Iqbal Singh Dhaliwal who is the executive director at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab at the department of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

She received her PhD in economics from Princeton University in 2001 after earning a bachelor's degree from University of Delhi's Lady Shri Ram College and master's degrees from both the Delhi School of Economics and the University of Washington.

Gita Gopinath received the Bhagwati Prize for the best paper published in the Journal of International Economics in 2003 and 2004. In 2014, she was named one of the top 25 economists under 45 by the IMF and she was a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2011.

Gopinath is also the co-editor of the American Economic Review and Handbook of International Economics, co-director of the International Finance and Macroeconomics Programme at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a member of the Economic Advisory Panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. She is also the co-editor of the current Handbook of International Economics, along with former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff.