The appointment of Harvard economist Gita Gopinath, 38, as the financial advisor to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has stirred quite a political controversy in the Left-ruled southernmost state of India.
Ms. Gita is perceived, as per her academic inclination, advocating for neo-liberal economics, that believes in a free market, while the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPI-M, that leads the Kerala government, vociferously opposes such policies on a national scale. But, the Kerala CM Vijayan seems undeterred by the controversy.
The CM said, “Ms Gopinath is a leading world economist with roots in Kerala, so asking her views and opinions on world economy makes sense. As long as his stand is clear there is no need to worry about a departure from the party line”.
Expressing her pleasure on the appointment Ms. Gita said in an email from Harvard University, "I am very honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Economic Advisor to the Hon'able Chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan". Ms Gopinath also said the state has made substantial progress on social indicators such as health and education, and she hoped to "contribute towards further developing sustainable policies that address its unique opportunities and challenges".
Gopinath is John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University and is only the third woman and the first Indian after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to become a tenured professor at the university.