September 22, 2015

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The School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University will inaugurate the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies thanks to a generous gift from Deepak and Neera Raj.

Arun Jaitley, India’s minister for finance, corporate affairs, and information and broadcasting, will make keynote remarks when the Center celebrates its launch on October 5, 2015—an event that will convene elected officials, policymakers, academics, and private-sector leaders on the Columbia campus. Also attending will be Arun Kumar Singh, Ambassador of India to the United States.

Under the leadership of University Professor Jagdish Bhagwati (pictured), who is the inaugural director, the Center will provide research and expertise necessary to inform policy decisions, deliver increased prosperity, and define India’s future role in the global economy. The Center will also make comparative study of the experience of India and the United States in policy-relevant areas such as climate change and federalism, providing scholarly support for bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

The Center, which is the first of its kind in the United States, will pursue this work through research projects, high-visibility programs, publications, and events.

Pravin Krishna, the Chung Ju Yung Distinguished Professor of International Economics and Business at Johns Hopkins University, will serve as deputy director. Arvind Panagariya, a noted economist and SIPA professor who is currently serving in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, led efforts to establish the Center.

“We are deeply grateful to Deepak and Neera Raj for their generous support of SIPA’s efforts in this vitally important field of inquiry,” said SIPA Dean Merit E. Janow. “By supporting critical research and scholarship, programming, and more, the new Center will underscore SIPA’s leadership in this area of research and enhance curricular offerings and opportunities for students.”

Bhagwati, who has been called the most creative international trade theorist of his generation, is a world-renowned scholar of international trade who has long advocated for freer trade around the world. A longtime Columbia faculty member, Bhagwati has advised the GATT, WTO, UN, and other international bodies. He is the author of numerous books and the recipient of multiple prizes, honorary degrees, and government honors.

“The transformation and growth of India’s economy remains as compelling and important a subject today as it has been for many decades,” said Bhagwati. “As a new government pursues landmark reforms, this is an especially auspicious time to be launching a center devoted to the challenging policy questions that will shape the world’s largest democracy and strive to provide better living standards for untold millions.”

“My wife, Neera, and I are delighted to be part of this important initiative at Columbia University,” said Deepak Raj, who is managing director of the private investment firms Rush Brook Partners and Raj Associates. “The Indian economy is at a critical juncture and we hope that the center's highly capable leadership will provide research and expertise to help India grow. I am thrilled that an internationally renowned expert and an iconic figure in economics, Professor Jagdish Bhagwati, has agreed to be the first director of the center.”

“The Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies is positioned to play a key role in convening discussion and policy-relevant research related to development of Indian economic policy, ” Panagariya said. “I look forward to ongoing engagement with Jagdish Bhagwati and other members of the world-renowned faculty at Columbia SIPA who are focused on these issues.”

In addition to the October 5 launch event with Finance Minister Jaitley, the Center will support a variety of activities including:

  • Research papers from leading academics on key issues related to India’s economic growth;
  • Articles, including op-ed pieces, intended for mainstream media in India and/or the United States;
  • An ongoing book series from Oxford University Press, edited by Jagdish Bhagwati, devoted to Indian economic policies;
  • Visiting scholars in residence at the Center, who will conduct research, participate in public programs, and teach;
  • Teaching of Columbia University’s graduate-level courses on the Indian economy;
  • A website and data center featuring working papers, blogs, resources for scholars and journalists.

For more information and news, please visit the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies.

For media inquiries, please contact Joanne Hvala (212-854-0552, jh3676@sipa.columbia.edu) or Marcus Tonti (212-851-1818, mat2120@sipa.columbia.edu).

Photograph of Jagdish Bhagwati - Columbia SIPA

View complete program (VIDEO)