Economist Isher Judge Ahluwalia, a Padma Bhushan awardee, died of cancer at the age of 74 in New Delhi on Saturday, The Hindu reported.

In August, Ahluwalia stepped down from the chairpersonship of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations. Ahluwalia was ICRIER’s chairperson for a period of 15 years till she resigned due to her poor health. Before that, she served as director and chief executive officer of the think-tank till 1998. Ahluwalia was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India in 2009 for her services in the field of education and literature.

She was married to the erstwhile Planning Commission Deputy Chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia.

“Her outstanding leadership and deep commitment meant that ICRIER became synonymous with her and with the qualities of excellence, integrity and independence she embodies,” a statement from the think-tank had said following her resignation. “It was during her tenure that ICRIER rose to be ranked as India’s best think tank in international economic policy and international development for years on and continues to occupy that preeminent position.”

ICRIER appointed Pramod Bhasin to succeed her as chairperson, but named her the institution’s Chairperson Emeritus.

Politicians and businesspersons paid tribute to Ahluwalia following her death.

“Saddened to learn of passing away of Dr Isher Judge Ahluwalia,” Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted. “She was one of India’s most distinguished economists and we had privilege of having her as Vice-Chairman of State Planning Board in my last term. Heartfelt condolences to Montek ji and their family in this hour of grief.”

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said Ahluwalia had her “own distinct identity” apart from being Montek Singh Ahluwalia’s wife. “Isher Ahluwalia who just passed away, was one of India’s distinguished economists, a MIT PhD, and author of an influential book ‘Industrial Growth in India’” he tweeted. “She built up ICRIER, a fine economic think tank. She had her own distinctive identity apart from being Montek’s wife.”

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

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