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India-born Gita Gopinath becomes the first woman chief economist at IMF.

India-born Gita Gopinath has been appointed chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), becoming the first woman to hold the position.

Gita is one of the world’s outstanding economists, with impeccable academic credentials, a proven track record of intellectual leadership, and extensive international experience,” Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director announcing the appointment.

The 46-year-old will be the second Indian to take up the position at the Washington DC-based IMF, after Raghuram Rajan (2003-06), the former Reserve Bank of India governor.

Growing up

Gopinath grew up in the Indian city of Mysore (now Mysuru). An economics graduate , Gopinath spent her early years studying at the Delhi School of Economics and New Delhi’s Lady Sriram College before moving overseas. “When I was doing my bachelors from Delhi University, India experienced its first major external financing and currency crisis in 1990-91. This inspired me to pursue graduate work in economics and was the foundation for my interest in international finance.”

She has advised large financial institutes and state governments and also held editorial positions. She has co-authored a book and published volumes of work across topics such as global trade and investment, productivity, emerging markets.

In 2015, the government of Kerala appointed her as its economic advisor, sparking a contentious debate. Gopinath’s perceived neoliberal economic background was at odds with the state’s Leftist economics. More recently, she has been vocal in critiquing India’s Narendra Modi-led government, particularly for the demonetisation of high-denomination currency notes in 2016.

Speaking on TV earlier this year, her outlook for Global Growth in 2018 has been optimistic, with business friendly policies in the US, growth in Japan and in Europe and in Asia.

Just recently, it was announced by the IMF that India is one of the world’s 6th largest economies. Having the chief at the IMF, who understands the reality of the Indian Economy so very well, could not have been better timed, with the best GDP quarter numbers out at 8.2%.