August 31, 2010

Top economist favourite for Presi VC post

Jhimli Mukherjee Pandey, TNN, Aug 27, 2010, 01.19am IST

KOLKATA: Jayati Ghosh, one of the world's leading women economists, could be the first vice-chancellor of Presidency University. She is said to be the forerunner among three names doing the rounds for the prestigious post.

The 55-year-old Ghosh is now the chairperson of the centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her credentials as a researcher and scholar are so strong that if she does get the chair, her supposed closeness to the ruling CPM would not raise eyebrows.

Ever since the Presidency University Bill was passed, all talk has centred around who would be the first vice-chancellor, especially because of the international significance of the institution. The search committee that has been set up by the state higher education department to suggest three names to be placed before the chancellor ( governor M K Narayanan) came in for some criticism because the members are known to be close to Alimuddin Street. It was speculated that they would choose a candidate who would look up to the CPM for directions.

The three members of the search committee are eminent economist Amiya Bagchi, vice-chancellor of Jadavpur University P N Ghosh and former director of ISI Shankar Pal. A large number of former Presidency students, faculty members and students have been crusading against the appointment of a V-C who would be close to the CPM.

Jayati Ghosh's name is seen as the most acceptable one. She was educated at Delhi University, JNU and the University of Cambridge. Her specialties include globalisation, international finance, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy and issues related to gender and development.

Ghosh has held positions at Tufts University and Cambridge University and in academic institutions throughout India. She is one of the founders of the Economic Research Foundation, New Delhi, a non-profit trust devoted to progressive economic research. She is also executive secretary of the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS), a network of economists critical of the mainstream economic paradigm of neo-liberalism.

She was the principal author of the West Bengal Human Development Report, which has received the UNDP Prize for excellence in analysis. She regularly writes for the country's leading financial newspapers and magazines and also in Ganashakti, the CPM's mouthpiece. Her husband Abhijit Sen, also an economist is a member of the Planning Commission. It is little known, but she is very well educated in Western Classical music and occasionally lectures on the genius of Mozart.

All the three members of the search committee were tightlipped about it. State higher education minister Sudarshan Roy Chowdhury said: "This is not a question you should be asking me or I should be discussing publicly at this stage. There is a process involved. The search committee is working to a deadline."

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