Raghuram Govind Rajan is a renowned Indian economist who is the Katherine Dusak Miller Distinguished Service Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. He was born on February 3, 1963, in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, into a Tamil Brahmin family. Rajan’s father, R Govindarajan, was a staff officer in the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency, which led to the family’s frequent international travels during Rajan’s childhood.
Rajan attended Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram from 1974 to 1981 and enrolled at the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi for a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1981. He graduated in 1985 and was awarded the Director’s Gold Medal for the best all-round student. Rajan went on to earn a Master of Business Administration from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in 1987 and joined the Tata Administrative Services as a management trainee before leaving to pursue a doctoral program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 1991, Rajan received his PhD for his thesis titled Essays on Banking. His thesis consisted of three essays on the relationship between a firm or country and its creditor banks. Rajan’s research argued that the deregulation of markets does not necessarily increase competition and efficiency, contrary to the established orthodoxy. He has since gone on to write extensively on banking, corporate finance, international finance, growth and development, and organizational structures.
Rajan joined the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago in 1991 as an assistant professor of finance and became a full-time professor in 1995. He has taught as a visiting professor at various institutions, including the Stockholm School of Economics, Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Indian School of Business.
From 2003 to 2006, Rajan served as the Chief Economist and Director of Research at the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In September 2013, he was appointed as the 23rd Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, a position he held until September 2016. During his tenure at the RBI, Rajan became the Vice-Chairman of the Bank for International Settlements in 2015.
Rajan gained widespread recognition for his warnings about the growing risks in the financial system before the 2008 financial crisis. In a 2005 speech at the Federal Reserve’s annual Jackson Hole conference, he proposed policies that would reduce such risks, but his views were criticized at the time. However, following the financial crisis, Rajan’s views came to be seen as prescient, and he was extensively interviewed for the Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job (2010).
Rajan’s book, Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy, won the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year award in 2010. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the London Business School, followed by the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2015 and the Université Catholique de Louvain in 2019. In 2016, Time named him one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World.”