Economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia passes away at 74

By Tenzin Norzom|28th Sep 2020
A self-made woman, Isher grew up in a middle-class family with eleven children and rose to become a formidable voice as a leading policy economist.
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Noted economist, Isher Judge Ahluwalia passed away on Saturday morning after a 10-month battle with brain cancer.


As her health declined, she stepped down from her role as the chairman of Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), a position she held for the last 15 years.


During her leadership, she was credited with building one of the finest economic think tank in India and was offered an honorary position as the chairperson emeritus at ICRIER.


Isher, who would have turned 75 on October 1, is survived by her husband Montek Singh Ahluwalia, a former Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission and their two sons.


Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon tweeted, “Isher Ahluwalia, my dear dear friend and a brilliant remarkable intellectual economist passed away after a brave battle with cancer. My deepest condolences to Montek Singh Ahluwalia n his sons Pavan & Aman n the family. She will be hugely missed RIP."



A Padma Bhushan Awardee, Isher holds PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), master’s from the Delhi School of Economics, and bachelor’s in economics from Presidency College, Kolkata.


Tharman Shanmugaratnam, economist and Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for Social Policies at Singapore paid his respects via a Tweet, “Isher led the outstanding life. From humble origins to a leading economist of her time, active to the end. Life partner to Montek, mother and granny. Her work esp on cities will be relevant for a long time.”


Her recently released memoir, Breaking Through, which was written while fighting brain cancer gives an insight into her personal and professional life.


A self-made woman, Isher grew up in a middle-class family with eleven children and rose to become a formidable voice as a leading policy economist and broke the glass ceiling in a male-dominant field. Isher’s far reaching impact – with her rich work as an economist and as a warm person – is reflected in the condolences that followed her unfortunate demise. Here are a few from Twitter:

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