Over the last fifty years, many intellectuals from India came to the US to study, do research, get degrees in higher education, and find teaching and research positions in institutions of higher learning. But early on, there were few opportunities for them to present the outcome of their research and rectify the misconceptions about the important changes taking place in India. Politics aside, there was real ignorance about India and Indians, not only amongst the common people but also amongst the educated. The economists amongst thinking Indians wanted to do something about it. They met at Pennsylvania’s Bloomsburg State University in 1975 to develop an identity for economists working on Indian economic issues; and to give publicity to their research outcomes at as many places as possible. Their aim was to educate the world at large on the realities of changing India. They decided to start an association, called the Association of Indian Economic Studies (AIES).
The first convention of AIES was held at the State University of New York-Albany. Several members contributed to the new venture. The names of Romesh Diwan, Tej Saini, Suresh Desai, Joginder Uppal, Bala Subramanian, Rajinder Koshal, Sushila Gidwani, among others can be listed in this regard. Several others came soon after to take the reins of the Association whose unstinted work and donated time and resources have made AIES what it is today. Apart from successive Presidents, the Executive Secretaries (Vaman Rao, Kusum Ketkar) have played much longer and key roles in making the AIES a strong, professionally-run, and popular academic organization. The AIES has grown a great deal since the mid-1970s, increasing its membership from most regions of the US. It has also attracted members from the UK, Australia, India and other places. After getting the status of an allied organization in the Allied Social Sciences Association, the AIES sessions have been held regularly along with AEA. In addition, AIES has held its own biennial conferences without interruptions, every other summer, since the Albany conference. The AIES provides forum for at least 25-30 papers per year. Academics from various universities in the US, UK, Australia, Japan, Europe and India, as also from international organizations, including IMF and the World Bank have presented papers at the AIESsponsored events. In its 33-year history, the AIES has provided a platform to over 1500 economists.
Note: The name was altered in 2008 to Association of Indian Economic and Financial Studies (AIEFS) to reflect the growing importance of financial markets in India’s economic development.