The LDF government in Kerala has appointed Harvard economist Gita Gopinath as Financial Adviser to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. However, her appointment has raised concerns among Left supporters who think her neo-liberal policies are not in line with the party’s ideology. The latest to join the anti-Gita bandwagon is prominent economist Prabhat Patnaik.
Ms. Gopinath is the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and of Economics at Harvard University. Her expertise lies in International Finance and Macroeconomics. She received a B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College in 1992. She has an M.A. from Delhi School of Economics and another M.A. from the University of Washington in 1996. She completed her P.hd from Princeton University in 2001. She is a protégé of Ben Bernanke, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Ms. Gopinath’s father is from Mayyil and her mother from Kuttiatoor in Kannur.
She has been given an honorary position with the Kerala government and will not be remunerated for the same. Unfazed by the controversy, Ms. Gopinath, in a written reply to The Kochi Post, said she is humbled by the opportunity to contribute her skills and effort to the development of Kerala.
On working with a Communist government
“I am very honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Economic Advisor to the Hon’ble Chief Minister Shree Pinarayi Vijayan. Kerala has made substantial progress on social indicators like health and education and I hope to contribute towards further developing sustainable policies for the State that address its unique opportunities and challenges,” says Ms. Gopinath.
Given the advisory nature of the appointment, she intends to contribute remotely, if the Chief Minister needs her advice on matters.
The Chief Minister has reportedly responded to the controversy by saying she is a world-renowned economist and he sees no harm in seeking her opinion.
Vision for Kerala
“First, I will respond to any requests from the Hon’ble CM for advice on the impact on Kerala’s economy of global, national and state events and policies…I hope to play a convening role to connect various state departments to the knowledge leaders from around the world in sectors relevant to Kerala like public finance, management, entrepreneurship, labor and development economics,” she says.
It is also to be noted that the LDF government has appointed journalist John Brittas as Media Adviser. Meanwhile, senior lawyer M.K. Damodaran has been appointed as the Chief Minister’s Legal Adviser.
Main photograph By World Economic Forum – Rebooting India, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.