Submitted by Editor on Fri, 2016-07-29 22:16 The appointment of Musuru-born Harvard economist Gita Gopinath as economic adviser to Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan has stirred quite a political controversy in the Left-ruled state. Vijayan is CPM’s handpicked choice for chief ministership, and the Left is aghast at his choice of adviser, who is seen as an advocate of "neo-liberal policies" by many Left leaders and supporters. The Kerala unit of the party, always split between the reformers and the ideologically faithful, is now bitterly divided. Vijayan has defended Gita’s appointment, which has been, not surprisingly, criticized by his rival within the party, V S Achuthanandan. Surprisingly, Vijayan got support from a political rival, Shashi Tharoor of the Congress. "For us, she is one of the leading world economists with roots in Kerala. What is wrong in asking her views and opinions on world economy and making use of whatever we want? As long as our stand is clear, there is no need for a worry on any departure from the party line," the Chief Minister told The Indian Express. Vijayan is seen as a “reformer” by the party rank and file. Shocked by the Vijayan’s move, the the party's central leadership has asked the state unit the reasons for appointing Gopinath. Gopinath said that it's an 'honorary position' and she would work without a salary. "There's no expectation that I will move to Thiruvananthapuram to engage on a daily basis with the government or be involved in all its economic policy decisions," Gopinath said in a statement. "I am very honored to have the opportunity to serve as the Economic Advisor to the Hon'ble Chief Minister Shree Pinarayi Vijayan. Kerala has made substantial progress on social indicators like health and education and I hope to contribute towards further developing sustainable policies for the state that address its unique opportunities and challenges," she said. The 44-year-old economist has impressive credentials. She is John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University. She is the third woman and the first Indian after Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to become a tenured professor at the Ivy League university. Gopinath is also a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a managing editor of the Review of Economic Studies. Gopinath was born in Mysuru. Her father, T V Gopinath is a farmer and entrepreneur in Mysuru. She did her under-graduation from Delhi's Lady Shriram College and MA from the Delhi School of Economics before moving to the US. She got her post-graduation degree from the University of Washington and her PhD from Princeton University. "Kerala is my native state as my father is from Mayyil and my mother from Kuttiattoor in Kannur district, so I am humbled by the opportunity to contribute my skills and effort to the development of Kerala. I am hopeful that under the leadership of the Hon'ble CM the state will make great strides in achieving its development goals," she said.