India felt proud when on Monday, October 1, Gita Gopinath, an India-born Harvard University professor was appointed as the new chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). She is only the second Indian to take up the prestigious role after former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan and the first woman to do so, reports said.
But soon after the celebrations, the dark side of India was out. It was found that people were more interested to know the economist’s caste identity as hysterically googling for the same. Gopinath, 47, was born in Kolkata and later shifted to Mysuru in Karnataka when she was nine. After receiving her higher education in Delhi and Washington, Gopinath joined educational institutions in the US as a professor and turned into a tenured professor at Harvard in 2010.
According to Indian media, ‘Gita Gopinath caste’ was one of the autocomplete predictions that were being made. These predictions are determined by tracking the real-time trending searches on search engine giant Google.
The quest to know the caste identity of women Indian achievers is not new. In July, soon after she clinched a gold medal in a world championship, athlete Hima Das’s name was being frantically looked after for her caste identity. The autocomplete prediction then too made it embarrassingly obvious.
It is indeed stunning to see the caste identities of women achievers become the topmost priority of common Indians to know and not the skills and feats that they have accomplished.
However, that is the reality that we have to live each day, even at the fag end of the second decade of the 21st century.
It is pertinent to mention here that renowned economist and member of Pakistan’s Economic Advisory Council (EAC) Dr Atif Mian resigned from his post following a request by the government owing to the mounting pressure from religio-political groups against the appointment for his being a member of Ahmadi community.