She is all of 25. But when she sells the "India story", CEOs twice her age listen with rapt attention. Meet Roopa Purushothaman, co-author of the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) report that places India among the top three global economies by 2050.
An associate economist with Goldman Sachs in London, Purushothaman says she never quite anticipated the kind of response the report she wrote with Dominic Wilson last October has generated in India. "In other countries, Brazil, Russia and China, it has not been so," she says.
Her new celebrity status amuses Purushothaman and it has already resulted in her vacation in India turning into almost an official one. "I would like to unwind once I get back to London," Purushothaman says.
An undergraduate from Yale with double specialisation in ethics, politics and economics, and international relations, and a graduate from the London School of Economics, Purushothaman is now doing a more focused study on India and its incredible performance in the services sector.
Ask her what is behind the bullish sentiment about India and she says the past 12 months have seen an encouraging dose of reforms. Purushothaman, however, warns against complacency, and feels that a lot of ground needs to be covered on labour reforms and implementation issues.
The BRIC report itself acknowledges that for India to achieve the level of development that Italy enjoys now, there should be macroeconomic stability, efficient institutions, openness to trade and foreign investment, a high level of education, stability in governance and less corruption.
According to the paper, the BRIC economies will be larger than those of the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, France and Italy by 2050. India will trail only China and the US. It, however, assumes that the equilibrium exchange rates will prevail and China's remnibi will be on free float.
She says talk of the global Indian amuses her. Born and raised in the US, Purushothaman says that the identity crisis of second generation Indians is not as much a problem there as in the UK, where she is currently based.
In her Yale days, Purushothaman undertook micro-level studies on household savings and consumption patterns in India, and also looked at risks and the financial market mechanism. She worked under well-known economist T N Srinivasan.