Amid the controversy over her appointment as Economic Advisor to the Kerala Chief Minister, Harvard Professor Gita Gopinath on Tuesday said she was ‘honoured’ and ‘humbled’ and expressed hope of contributing toward further developing sustainable policies for the state.
“I am very honoured to have the opportunity to serve as the Economic Advisor to the Hon’able Chief minister, Pinarayi Vijayan,” she said in an email from Harvard University.
Gopinath said she would respond to any requests from the Chief Minister for advice on the economic impact on Kerala’s economy of global, national and state events and policies.
She said it was important to recognise that the post of advisor was an ‘honorary’ position, that there was no remuneration, and there was no expectation she would move to Thiruvananthapuram to engage on a daily basis with government or be involved in all its economic policy decisions.
The appointment of Gopinath as the economic advisor to Vijayan heading the LDF government has triggered a controversy following reports that she was a supporter of neo-liberal policies and her line was stark contrast to the Left line.
Many left sympathisers have raised their concerns over her appointment stating the contradiction of roping in a neo-liberal advocate to advise a CPI(M) Chief Minister. While CPI, a major partner in the LDF, said it was the Chief Minister’s discretion to appoint a person to advise him on financial matters, Kerala PCC President, V M Sudheeran, wanted Vijayan to explain how a “supporter” of neo-liberal policies, will go along with the Left policies.
Gopinath, whose parents hail from northern Kannur district, said she also hoped to play a ‘convening role’ to connect various state departments to the knowledge leaders from around the world in sectors relevant to Kerala, including Public finance, labour, economics and entrepreneurship.
“My mandate as discussed with Honable CM is two fold. First, I will respond to any requests from Honourable CM for advice on the economic impact on Kerala’s economy of global, national and state events and policies.
“Given my location, I anticipate most of this will be done remotely, rather than in person. Second, 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, labour and development economics and entrepreneurship,” she said.
In both these tasks, her role will be confined entirely to ‘providing advice’ and to make connections for the various departments, she said adding it would then be upto the CM to consider it and upto the relevant departments to continue conversations with the various sector experts.
Given this advisory nature of her appointment and her location, she does not anticipate frequent interactions with media to explain government policies or her opinion on those. Gopinath said the state has made substantial progress on social indicators like health and education, and she hoped to “contribute towards further developing sustainable policies that address its unique opportunities and challenges.”