5 Indian Women: Who Have Shown Their Excellence In The Field Of Economics

Indian Women | Excellence | Field Of Economics | 20th October 2022 | Virtual Wire



“No country can truly develop if half its population is left behind.” -Justine Greening, UK Development Secretary.

Although the definition of economics itself suggests managing scarce resources efficiently, half of the human capital still remains underutilized. In India, the share of female economists is only 28.6%. Economics is a highly influential field that is responsible for Welfare in a country. But the visible gender gap in this field is a matter of concern as it results in a lack of diversity of thinking. However, we mustn't forget those who did phenomenal work in this field.

Anshula Kant


Kant is an alumna of Lady Shri Ram College and Delhi School of Economics who served as the managing director of the State Bank of India for 35 years, starting from 1983 as a probationary officer. Recently, she joined the World Bank as MD and Chief Financial Officer (CFO). As the former CFO of SBI, she managed USD 38 billion of revenues and total assets of USD 500 billion. In her new role at World Bank, she's responsible for financial and risk management.

Gita Gopinath


Another alumna of Lady Shriram College and Delhi School of Economics (where she was Ranked first in B.A. Economics (Honors)), Gita Gopinath is the first woman, and second Indian (after former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan) to be appointed as chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in October 2018. She completed another M.A. from the University of Washington, and PhD in Economics from Princeton University. Her childhood ambition was to become a civil servant, for which she didn't pursue a career in medicine or engineering even after being qualified enough. Although athletics fascinated her as a teenager, she gave up on it too saying, Sports are a tricky affair. Unless you are number one in India, you are a nobody! But, if you come first or second in university, you could be somebody big.”! After that her test scores rose from 45 percent to 90 per cent. After completing her studies, the per centGopinathjoined the University of Chicago in 2001 as an assistant professor, then Harvard as a tenured professor in 2010. She became the third woman, and second Indian permanent member of the economics department of Harvard University, after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen.


Gopinath also served as the co-director of the international finance and macroeconomics program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economic adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala, a co-editor at the American Economic Review, and a co-editor of the 2019 edition of the Handbook of International Economics. She received Pravasi Bharatiya Samman from the President of India(2019), the John Kenneth Galbraith Award(2021), the Excellence in the mentoring award(2014), the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of Washington(2017) and the Bhagwati prize. Her name was included in Financial Times: 25 Most Influential Women of 2021, Carnegie Corporation: Great Immigrants 2021, India Today: Global Indians 2021, Fortune India: Most Powerful Women 2021, Vogue India: Women of the Year 2020, The Daily Princetonian: Most influential Princeton alumni 2020, India Today: Global Indians 2020, Business Today: India’s Most Powerful Women, Foreign Policy: Top 100 Global Thinkers, Time: Women who Broke Major Barriers to Become 'Firsts' in 2019, Bloomberg: 50 people who defined 2019, International Monetary Fund: Top 25 economists under 45 (2014), Financial Times: 25 Indians to Watch(2012).

Jayati Ghosh


Founders of the Economic Research Foundation, New Delhi, a non-profit trust, Jayati Ghosh is an alumna of the Delhi School of Economics, Jawaharlal Nehru University and Cambridge University. She's a renowned author and developmental economist who was the prominent author of the West Bengal Human Development Report which has received the United Nations Development Programme Prize for excellence in analysis. Apart from Indian institutions, she has been a lecturer at Tufts University and Cambridge University as well. She regularly writes columns on economics and current affairs in Frontline magazine, Business Line, the Bengali newspaper Ganashakti, Deccan Chronicle, and Asian Age etc.

She was appointed to the World Health Organization's Council on the Economics of Health For All in the year 2021. She has been a member of the Commission for Universal Health since 2022. Her criticisms of the Government are to the point. Ghosh uploads educational content on a youtube channel called New Economic Thinking. She has received many awards and honours for her work including Conference President, Indian Society for Labour Economics (2013), Satyendranath Sen Award, Asiatic Society (2012), ILO Decent Work Research Prize (2010), NordSud Prize for Research in Social Sciences, Fondazione Pescarabruzzo (2010), Ava Maiti Memorial Prize (2006), UNDP Award for Excellence in Analysis (2006).

Nirmala Sitaraman


Nirmala Sitaraman is the current minister of finance and minister of corporate affairs of India. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College, Tiruchirapalli in 1980, a Master of Arts in economics and an M.Phil. from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi in 1984 and then enrolled for a PhD. program in Economics with a focus on Indo-Europe trade but left it later on. She has served as a member of the National Commission for Women. In 2017, she was one of the founding directors of Pranava in Hyderabad. She has also served as an assistant to Economist in the Agricultural Engineers Association in the UK. During her stay in the UK, she was a Senior Manager (R&D) for PWC and briefly at the BBC World Service.

Her political career started in 2006 when she joined Bharatiya Janta Party, she entered the corporate alumnus prime minister's cabinet as a junior minister in 2014 and was elected as a Rajya Sabha Member from Andhra Pradesh. Before getting the post of finance minister, she served as the Minister of Commerce and corporare affairs(26 May 2014 – 3 September 2017) and the Defence Minister (3 September 2017 – 30 May 2019) of India ( where she headed the Balakot Air Strike carried out by the Indian Air Force in the year 2019).

Isher Judge Ahluwalia


Isher Judge Ahluwalia is alumni of the University of Calcutta (B.A.), Delhi School of Economics (M.A.) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Ph. D). She started her career as a policy researcher at the International Monetary Fund in Washington, DC. Then she joined the Centre for Policy Research as a professor. After that, she became the director, chief executive and Chairperson Emeritus, Board of Governors, at the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER). She has also served as the chairperson of the board of the International Food Policy Research Institute, and the chairperson of the Government of India's High-Powered Committee on Urban Infrastructure Services from 2003 to 2006.

Then as the Vice Chairperson of the Punjab State Planning Board from 2005 to 2007 and chairperson of the High Powered Expert Committee on Urban Infrastructure and Services by the Ministry of Urban Development, and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India, in 2008. She received Batheja Memorial Award for best book(1987) on the Indian Economy, Industrial Growth in India: Stagnation Since the mid-1960s and was awarded India's 3rd highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, in 2009 for best book on Indian Economy, Industrial Growth in India: Stagnation Since the mid-1960s.

Although, there is a gender gap these women broke the barriers and shined gracefully. There are many more female economists who did a great job in the field of economics. And, hope that many more will join the lists soon.

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