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Money makes the world go round

As a global economic meltdown seems more and more imminent, governments are on the hunt for experts who have the ability to save nations from financial ruin
Hindustan Times | By Rahat Bano, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 09, 2012 01:13 PM IST

Shaky economies have left a lot of people across the world shaken and stirred. Whether it’s Europe, the United States or Arab countries with new political orders, one major concern of citizens as well as of governments is the economy. In India, gross domestic product (GDP) growth, industrial output and inflation figures are hogging the spotlight. Even a communist country like China attracts world attention due to its status as an economic powerhouse. Economics continues to be in focus.

“Today, the world is increasingly behaving like it’s totally economical. People are driven by short-term goals. Consumerist culture is expanding… Things like these are resulting in economics becoming more important than it was about 40 years ago,” says Arun Kumar, chairperson, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University. “Economics and commerce dominate politics.” Kumar points out that earlier, prime ministers and chief ministers would give any World Economic Forum at Davos a miss. Now, most of them are interested. “PMs go to Davos and do a sales job to get investment. Earlier, it was rare for a prime minister to meet individual businessmen, except as part of a delegation of a body like FICCI and the waiting period for such meetings would be long,” he says, adding that there’s been a “big social change” in the country.

Recently, Nouriel Roubini, a globally-renowned professor of economics at New York University, who is the co-founder of research firm Roubini Global Economics (RGE), set up his Asia office in New Delhi. Soon after settling here, RGE is planning to double its current headcount of nine (mainly MAs and a couple of MPhils in economics from Delhi University, JNU and University of Calcutta) to 20 by the end of this year.

Kunal Kumar Kundu, senior economist and general manager, India, RGE, says, “At a time of recession globally, our revenue has grown. The number of our subscribers increased in 2011 which shows there’s a demand for an independent thought process.”

The current global business climate is a huge opportunity for economists, including Indians. Indian economists and young economics graduates are gaining international reputation — one of the reasons why RGE homed in on Delhi. “Due to the availability of economics talent, more research houses might be tempted to open shop in the country,” says Kundu.

India’s integration into the global marketplace also means more economists keeping an eye on the international scene. “There are a lot many economists in India now who cover the world because the Indian economy is integrated with the global market; it’s no longer in a silo. There’s a clear need to understand where the world is heading. Therefore, there’s a felt need for more economists,” says Kundu.

Key skills required
* Strong quantitative ability
* Analytical bent of mind
* Good communication skills

A fresh MA in economics from JNU could make R80,000 a month or more in the corporate sector while an assistant professor draws about Rs 50,000. At the Delhi School of Economics’ campus placements in 2010-11, the average pay package (cost to company) was Rs 73,750 a month (Rs 8.85 lakh a year)

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