Interview with Dr Raghuram Rajan

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Q: Which technologies do you think will play a key role in the development of the country? And what do you think should be the funding policy for these research areas?

A: New technology is something you haven’t thought of. So it is impossible to predict the success or failure of a particular technology. From what is already out there, you can see that the market place is supported by good logistics.  If a way to bring down transportation costs is figured out, that would be a great benefit for the population. There are a vast number of technologies existing and we have not much of an idea about them. Thus, we may be surprised.

Q: With the start-up culture booming in India, what are the ways to promote this culture?

A: This start-up culture is great. I would love to see these start-ups focusing on making things apart from apps, soft wares and social media, and also find a way to improve rural India where a large part of our population is concentrated. Are there ways to improve the quality of handicrafts which generate a lot of income in these rural areas?  There are problems like quality and inefficient engineering practices in making these handicrafts which can be resolved.  Increased stress on making things and tying them up with rural India along with technologies which can improve agriculture and horticulture is the way forward.

Q: How do you think students at IIT can contribute to the Make in India campaign?

A: I think it’s with their brains. IITs have the smartest people of the country. The key is to challenge them. The Distinguished Alumni Award demonstrated that we can compete with the best. The real issue is to challenge them, to show them the possibilities and then they will go out on their own and do things. The start-up culture is really good for that because it gives them the sense of being self-sufficient and self-dependent. You don’t need to go to the McKinsey’s or the Goldman Sachs. You can create your own firm.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Q: What was your IIT D CGPA?

A: 9.6

Q: What was the lowest grade you received in IIT Delhi?

A: B

Q: Have you been to the Dogra Hall Roof?

A: Absolutely. Many Times.

Q: What do you miss the most about IIT?

A: Friends, of course. When you look back, you it’s always what human company is. I keep in touch with some of them but I remember them.

Q: Which was your most memorable class?

A: Dr. Prem Vrats. I think it was Operations Research or a related area. He was a brilliant teacher.

Q: If you could be someone else who would you be?

A: I don’t know. I can’t answer that one.

Q: Have you ever lied about being sick to avoid work?

A: Never. I have always loved my work.

Q: Which question do you hate to answer?

A: This one.

Q: What is the best compliment someone has ever given you?

A: That’s a tough one. I will pass the question.

Q: If you could witness anything, what would you like to see?

A: Off the top of my head…the Dandi Salt March. I would have loved to see it. You have those jerky photos, I would have loved to see Gandhi striding forward.

Q: If you could retire tomorrow, what would you do?

A: I’d read. That is what I do in work also, so I am living a retired life now.

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