Career Focus

EducationWorld September 07 | Education World

Rising demand for career economistsFollowing liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy in 1991, a whole world of opportunities has opened up for qualified economists at hitherto unheard of remuneration packages”The Indian economy, which was a sleeping giant for almost four decades has woken up and is taking giant strides to catch up with the rest of the world. Following liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy in 1991, it has transformed into a juggernaut on a roll, with the annual GDP growth within striking range of double-digits. As a result, mergers and acquisitions are increasing as are collaboration agreements between Indian and foreign companies. In such a scenario, there‚s a rising demand for trained economists who can advise corporate India to compete with the rest of the world,” observes economist Dr. Saumya Sankar Banerjee, hitherto general manager in the research and planning division of the Industrial Development Bank of India (IDBI), and currently executive assistant to the chairman of this bank, which has 453 branches countrywide. Economists study how global and/or national resources can be optimally utilised and distributed. An economist working in government, industry or in the corporate sector advises on economic issues; interprets statistics; makes cost-benefit appraisals; forecasts industrial, commercial, political and social trends and recommends appropriate action. School leavers planning to qualify as professional economists should study maths until Plus Two. At the undergrad level they should major in economics or acquire an economics honours degree. This should be followed by postgraduation and preferably a Ph D. Specialisation in econometrics or mathematical economics is facilitated by some universities/institutions. At the postgrad level, an entrance examination is the norm. Among India‚s most prestigious institutes for postgraduate study in economics are: ‚ The Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research (IGIDR), Mumbai 400 065 (www.igidr.ac.in). Promoted by the Reserve Bank of India, IGIDR offers a Masters programme in economics as also M.Phil/Ph D programmes in development studies. Applicants must have cleared maths at the higher secondary level.‚ Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune (a deemed university ‚ MA/Ph D)‚ Delhi School of Economics, University of Delhi ‚ Anna University in collaboration with Madras School of Economics, Chennai 600 025‚ Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi 110 067‚ The Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata offers a Master of science (certification) in quantitative economics and junior research fellowships in economics Following liberalisation and deregulation of the Indian economy in 1991, a whole world of opportunities has opened up for career economists at hitherto unheard of remuneration packages. Latterly, corporates are pouring into campuses of the above institutions to recruit the brightest and best. Moreover trained economists are in great demand in colleges, universities and business schools. Specialist positions are also reserved for economists in commercial banks, and financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), IDBI, NABARD, SEBI and others. The Indian Economic Service examination is conducted by the Union Public Service Commission for postgraduates in economics. Well-qualified economists from India are also snapped up by international organisations such as the World Bank, IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the United Nations and by foreign universities and institutions. Career options are also available in financial institutions, banks and business agencies.”Postgraduation and preferably a doctorate is helpful in landing an economist‚s job. Those opting for this career should have a sound base in maths and statistics. The breeding grounds of new age economists are Delhi School of Economics, JNU, IGIDR and abroad it‚s the London School of Economics, MIT and Harvard. Indian economists have a good reputation internationally and include luminaries such as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, Jagdish Bhagwati, Dr. Kirit Parekh, among others,” says Banerjee.An alumnus of St. Xavier‚s College, Kolkata and the University of Kolkata which awarded him an M.Phil (economics), in 1987 Banerjee was inducted into the West Bengal Educational Service and taught economics in several colleges in Kolkata for a decade. In 1995, he signed up with the research and planning division of IDBI, Mumbai, and rose to the position of general manager in 2005. While with IDBI, he enrolled at IGIDR for his doctorate in economics. Looking back on a rewarding career as a professional economist whose papers have been published in reputed economic journals in India and abroad, Banerjee has no regrets about his choice of career. “The reward of this profession is in helping to formulate development policies to transform the lives of millions of people for the better. It‚s a career path which offers a combination of public service and intellectual stimulus,” says Banerjee.Indra Gidwani (Mumbai)

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