New Colleague: Ayushi Bajaj

Most people who move to Australia from abroad have one major complaint. It is so far from everything else. Except perhaps New Zeeland. For Ayushi Bajaj it was the opposite. After she finished her PhD from University of California, at Irvine, outside Los Angeles, she chose Melbourne explicitly because it is closer to home. And compared to California, the trip from Melbourne to her home town of Ranchi in Eastern India, takes only half the time.

Although Melbourne is colder than she expected, she’s happy about her choice.

“So far I really like Monash. I’m at the Caulfield campus and everyone is really friendly. It’s active in the sense there are seminars and conferences going on and Caulfield is very well located to get into the city.”

She recently got married but her husband is still living in India.

“We both like Melbourne so now he’s looking for jobs here.”

Ayushi Bajaj has been at the department for about a year and her research focuses on macro theory and the effects of monetary policy.

“It is pretty abstract but I try to do some applied theory like the demonetisation in India and thinking about what the effects will be.”

When she is not working she likes biking, going to the theatre, hiking and reading. She reads both fiction and non-fiction.

“I was reading Arundathi Roy’s latest novel “The ministry of utmost happiness” and I was about half way through when my husband came to visit, then he started reading the book and took it with him back to India so I haven’t finished. I am also reading “An uncertain glory” by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen on the political economy of India.

Reflecting on these topics is what drove Ayushi into economics in the first place. Amartya Sen’s earlier book “Development as freedom” was an inspiration when she wanted to become an economist.

“When you come from a less developed country you think about the problems and how to overcome those. The political issues got me interested. I thought if I study Economics I’ll at least get a better understanding of what’s happening even if I can’t do anything major.”

But before, when Ayushi was a child, long before she went to university she wanted to become a teacher.

“When we were kids and in a group I enjoyed teaching the others. When I was in second grade I wanted to be a second grade teacher and so on up until college when I wanted to be a college professor and that’s what I became. That was another reason for me to do a PhD, not only for the research but also for the teaching.”

So you enjoy the teaching?
“Yes I taught 300 pupils at once last semester which was a first to teach such a big group. I was a bit worried but it was fun.”