Economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia died on Saturday after a ten-month fight with brain cancer. She would have turned 75 on October 1.
She was chairperson of the think-tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) for 15 years and stepped down last month due to ill health. She was chairperson emeritus at ICRIER, a position specially created to honour her exceptional contributions.
Isher was a recipient of a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an M.A. from the Delhi School of Economics, and a B.A. (Eco Hons) from Presidency College, Kolkata.
Her research has focused on urban development, industrial development, macro-economic reforms, and social sector development issues in India. She was a notable participant in numerous policy debates and had authored various articles.
Isher, a Padma Bhushan awardee, was married to Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a former deputy chairperson of th Planning Commission.
Isher described her modest "Hindi medium" origins in her recently released memoirs, Breaking Through.
"Isher Ahluwalia’s life, not only as a young girl breaking the barriers of traditionalism but as a woman making a mark for herself while being married to a key player in India’s economic establishment for over two decades, is a great read in itself. Managing a home and career is difficult, but managing a home, an academic career, (re)building an institution and staying away from controversy as the spouse of a key policymaker is exponentially more difficult," said Laveesh Bhandari in his review
in the Business Standard of the economist's memoirs.
Isher suffered from grade IV glioblastoma, "among the toughest of all cancers", according to columnist Omkar Goswami’s review of the same book elsewhere.