theIITian of the Week
Raghuram Rajan (IITD85)

With a firm hand, in a major policy move to curb inflation, Raghu Rajan (IITD85), RBI Governor, raised lending (repo) rates today. “These will help strengthen the environment for economic growth. The RBI will closely monitor inflation risk while being mindful of the evolving growth dynamics,” Raghuram Rajan said today (29th Oct, Tuesday).

With another strong move in a series of decisive actions, Raghuram Rajan is “theIITian of the Week”.
-picture courtesy TimesGroup

He’s put ‘sex’ back into the limp Sensex.
– quote by Shobhaa De

How does an IIT boy become one of the biggest names in economics? In a way, Rajan’s story illustrates the dramatic rise of a brilliant, IIT educated engineer; in another, it is an increasingly common story about the superlative competence of an IIT student in whatever field he (or she) wishes to apply himself (or herself) to.

The traces this fascinating career path, from the classrooms of IIT Delhi in the 80’s, to the halls of power within two decades.

Born to a family with an IFS (Indian Foreign Service) officer, Rajan’s childhood was spent in schools in Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Belgium. After his return to India, he spent the rest of his school years in the acclaimed Delhi Public School, graduating right into one of the top colleges in the country – IIT Delhi.

At IIT Delhi he majored in Electrical Engineering, eventually earning a gold medal for his outstanding performance, a feat he repeated a couple of years later at IIM Ahmadabad studying Business Administration. In a way, his academic performance in quite similar to D. Subbarao, who also obtained the gold medal while at IITKgp and topped the Civil Services Exam – both are exemplary.

After IIM, Rajan obtained a Ph.D in management from MIT, for his thesis “Essays on Banking.”

His next stop was as a professor at the University of Chicago, an august institution with a profound history of contributions towards economics (and especially Macroeconomics.) Interestingly enough, the kind of macroeconomics practiced in UoC, a so-called freshwater school, was quite different from that in MIT, a saltwater institution. The manner in which he excelled at both just showcases, once again, the sheer versatility of his intellect.

In 2003 Rajan was appointed the youngest chief-economist at the International Monetary Fund, a post he held till 2006. That year he also was also awarded two substantial prizes: the Fischer Black Prize for contributions to the theory and practice of finance by an economist under age 40, and the 5th Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics.

In 2005 Rajan read the famous paper “Has Financial Development Made the World Riskier” that predicted the 2008 collapse at a celebration honoring Alan Greenspan. Post-Crisis, it was this one paper that catapulted him to world-wide fame. At the time, however, he was dismissed as misguided and “luddite”.

In 2008 Rajan was appointed as Honorary economic adviser by the Prime Minister of India. In 2012, he replaced Kaushik Basu as the Chief Economic Adviser to the Ministry of Finance.

And on 4th of September, 2013, he became the second-youngest Governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

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  1. Sonal SinghSeptember 18, 2013 at 3:44 pmReply

    His powers as RBI Governor will be very limited in order to make an impact. But one thing is for sure – he is not afraid of speaking the truth as he showed in 2005 at the celebration of US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, delivering a paper that criticised US financial system and almost predicting the crisis of 2008. In this case, it seems more like a face saving measure from the government though and I hope he is not made a scapegoat or an excuse (if he can’t save us, who can?). Let’s hope he can do some good despite his limited mandate…

  2. Romesh Kumar AggarwalDecember 7, 2013 at 12:36 pmReply

    Sonal Singh

    There is big difference in 2008 and now. Shashi Tharoor, came with similar credentials and a book on Nehru’s slips had raised similar expectations in the country. After cooling his heels in the backwaters of Kerala, he is a better politician now. Like wise, Mr Jairam Ramesh has lost .his intellectual pursuits and spends time on throwing mud at the BJP. Let us see what Rajan can do.
    If his powers as RBI Governor will be very limited, so would be his powers as an IITian.

    How does an IIT boy become one of the biggest names in economics? He grew as a free man.not carrying the Umbrella of PANIIT. In our time, after Graduation, you were a free man. Now it is the other way. Your reputation is at risk at all times under the blind eyes of PanIIT, Heritage Funds and Deans of Alumni Association .and Karate belts of Distinguished Alumni, this or that.

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Raghuram Rajan


Raghuram Govinda Rajan is an Indian economist who is the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, took charge on September 4, 2013

Born: February 3, 1963 (age 50), Bhopal

Spouse: Radhika Rajan (IIM)

Nationality: American, Indian

Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Awards: Financial Times and Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award, 5th Deutsche Bank Prize in Financial Economics, the inaugural Fischer Black Prize in 2003


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