The first economics class in college on ‘demand and supply’ sent her into a tailspin, but three economics degrees and a prestigious prize later, all that is a long way in the past for Mahima Khanna.
Khanna, 23, who just finished the MPhil in Economics from Cambridge University in the UK, was awarded the Stevenson Prize last week, an honour previously conferred on economists Amartya Sen and Partha Dasgupta for topping the outgoing class.
“When I first got the email it didn’t hit me,” said Khanna, who grew up in Calcutta and studied at Loreto House and La Martiniere before completing her undergraduate degree at St Xavier’s College. “I literally couldn’t feel the earth under me. It was absolutely thrilling.”
However, even before the problems of demand and supply besieged her, Khanna had to make a conscious decision to veer away from following her doctor parents into the medical profession.
“My parents supported me in my choice to study economics, but I know they were not happy,” said Khanna, who now works at a consultancy firm in Mumbai. “It was my maternal grandfather who helped me make the decision and told me not to hesitate.”
Khanna finished her MPhil and began her job a few months ago, but found out only last week that she would be joining the exclusive club of accomplished economists after receiving an email.
She isn’t sure about further study plans and wants to work for a couple of years first. “I thought of working as a consultant because I thought I lacked real life experience,” she said. However, she never considered staying on in the UK to work. “I wanted to come back and work here, I wanted to do something for my nation,” said Khanna.
She has previously done projects under the Planning Commission as well as research work with Cambridge University.
She will attend her convocation ceremony in January next year to receive her degree as well as the prize.