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Gita Gopinath: A Mysuru girl who will now be taking top leadership role at IMF

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: Gita Gopinath, who was the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is all set to take up new responsibilities as the first deputy managing director of the global fund from January next year replacing Geoffrey Okamoto.

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The economist, who hails from India’s Mysuru, created history back in 2018, when she went on to become the first ever woman chief economist at IMF and took just three more years to break that record. “Both Geoffrey and Gita are tremendous colleagues I am sad to see Geoffrey go but, at the same time, I am delighted that Gita has decided to stay and accept the new responsibility of being our FDMD,” said Kristalina Georgieva, IMF’s Managing Director, while announcing the decision.

Now a famous economist, Gita Gopinath was once a mediocre student, Her merit was not something her parents were proud of till she was in the seventh standard at school. Then things took a U-turn. “The girl who used to score 45 per cent till class seven, started scoring 90 per cent. I never asked my kids to study, and had not put any restrictions on them. Their friends came home, stayed over to study and play. Till SSLC, both my girls used to go to bed by 7.30pm and wake up early. After school, Gita joined Mahajana PU college in Mysuru, and pursued science. Later, though her marks were good enough for engineering and medicine, she decided to do BA (Hons) in economics,” said her father, Gopinath, in a media interview.

It was her father who taught Gita multiplication – all in a unique way. Gopinath would bring fruits on the table and then teach his daughter how to multiply. Later on, though Gita tried her hand in guitar and walked the ramp, she devoted all her focus to studies to join the Delhi School of Economics after completing her graduation from Lady Shri Ram college. During her postgraduation, Gita Gopinath met her husband Iqbal. The couple has an 18-year-old son, Rahil.

In 2001, Gita Gopinath decided to let go of her intention to become an IAS completely, to join the University of Washington, Seattle, for a fully funded PhD programme of five years. Thereafter, she moved to the University of Princeton to complete the degree, after which she joined as an assistant professor at the University of Chicago.

Gita Gopinath moved to Harvard to become a tenured professor in 2010. She was to return to Harvard as a professor after her stint as the chief economist at IMF, before she broke her own record.

While assigning her the new role, IMF managing director Georgieva said that the pandemic has led to the increase in the challenges on the scope of macroeconomics in every country. “I believe that Gita—universally recognized as one of the world’s leading macroeconomists—has precisely the expertise that we need for the FDMD role at this point. Indeed, her particular skill set—combined with her years of experience at the Fund as Chief Economist—make her uniquely well qualified. She is the right person at the right time,” said Georgieva.

Acknowledging the news, Gita Gopinath said she was honoured. “Over the past three years I have had the opportunity to experience first-hand and be a part of the hugely important work done by the IMF at the intersection of rigorous economic analysis and public policy. It has been so gratifying to see the positive impact of our work on economies and on the lives of so many people worldwide. As the pandemic continues its grip on us, the work of the Fund has never been more critical and international cooperation never more important,” she added.

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