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Economist, Author and Columnist
Economist, Author and Publisher
Professor of Economics, Cornell University

Date & Time

Tue, 28 Jul 2020



Bangalore International Centre
7, 4th Main Road, Domlur II Stage
Bengaluru, Karnataka 560 071 India
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+91 98865 99675 bic@bangaloreinternationalcentre.org

Economists S.L. Rao, Uma Kapila and Ravi Kanbur discuss the life and work of V.K.R.V. Rao.

V.K.R.V. Rao (1908-1991) was an eminent Indian economist, politician and institution builder. Studying under John Maynard Keynes, Rao worked on some of the earliest estimates of India’s national income statistics and published a range of important economic research on poverty, developmental economics, and macroeconomics. Apart from a career in politics, Rao also mentored generations of Indian economists, and helped establish numerous Indian institutions like the Delhi School of Economics, the Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi, the Institute of Social and Economic Change Bangalore, the Indian Council of Social Science Research, and many more.

S.L. Rao, Uma Kapila and Ravi Kanbur share their personal reminiscence of V.K.R.V. Rao, discuss his contributions to economics and to institution building.

Dr. SL Rao is a columnist and an emeritus professor who has worked in academia, at think tanks and in the private sector through his life. He was previously the Director General of NCAER in Delhi and Chairman of ISEC in Bangalore. Dr. Uma Kapila is a retired faculty of economics at Miranda House in Delhi, and the co-founder of the Indian publishing firm Academic Foundation. Dr. Ravi Kanbur is a Professor of Economics at the Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at Cornell University.

Also read:

  • The Partial Memoirs of VKRV Rao, SL Rao, 2002. [Link]
  • A Passionate Humanitarian: VKRV Rao, Academic Foundation, 2008. [Link]

Ravi Kanbur’s transcription of VKRV Rao’s Correspondence with John Maynard Keynes


SL Rao

Economist, Author and Columnist

Surendra Lakshminarayan Rao is Distinguished Fellow, Emeritus, The Energy and Resources Institute, (TERI) and Trustee Emertius, Bangalore International Centre (BIC). He is an economist by training and has worked as a professional manager for 28 years in marketing and general management positions in Lever, Warner Hindustan and Beardsell. He was  an independent management consultant for five years. He has taught management  as visiting faculty in major Indian business schools

SL Rao designed and as  Executive Chairman ran the National Management Programme (1987-1990) for mid-career government and business officials. He was Director-General of NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) from 1990 to 1996; from 1998 to 2001 was the first Chairman of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. He was Chairman of the Institute for Social and Economic Change, Bangalore, (2004 to 2010), President, All India Management Association, (1985-86), Vice-President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Tamil Nadu, (1976-1979). He has authored or edited sixteen books, many papers and hundreds of articles. His latest book is “Managing  India “. Among earlier books are: Powering India (2012), From Servants to Masters? The Evolution of Professional Management in India (2007), Successful Negotiation (1994), Indian Market Demographics-the consuming classes (1996), Elephants Can’t Dance-Managing in a Reforming Economy (2001, Management Education (a report for AIMA), 2005, Governing Power (2004) and a partial memoir of VKRV Rao. He was on multiple Boards of For Profit and Non Profit organisations.

Uma Kapila

Economist, Author and Publisher

Uma Kapila has taught Indian Economy to undergraduate students for over forty-two years. She retired as Reader from the Department of Economics, Miranda House, University of Delhi. Presently, she is Editorial Director, Academic Foundation.

An Honours Graduate from Miranda House, University of Delhi and MA and PhD from Delhi School of Economics (DSE), Dr Kapila has also served on the Planning Commission Study Group on “Agricultural Strategies in the Eastern Region of India for the Seventh Five Year Plan” (Perspective Planning Division). She is the author of the book Oilseeds Economy of India (1982) published by the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), Delhi. A prolific writer, she has authored,  and edited and co-edited with Raj Kapila, a number of books on India’s economy, banking and finance. Edited by her and revised every year, the popular reference text, Indian Economy Since Independence is currently running into its 28th edition. She is editor of Academic Foundation’s continuing series EDI (Economic Developments in India), a monthly update on Indian economy (230 volumes published till date).

Ravi Kanbur

Professor of Economics, Cornell University

Ravi Kanbur researches and teaches in development economics, public economics and economic theory. He is well known for his role in policy analysis and engagement in international development. He has served on the senior staff of the World Bank including as Chief Economist for Africa. He has also published in the leading economics journals, including Journal of Political Economy, American Economic Review, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of Economic Theory and Economic Journal.

He is Co-Chair of the Food Economics Commission and Co-Chair of the Scientific Council of the International Panel on Social Progress. The positions he has held include: Chair of the Board of United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research, member of the OECD High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance, President of the Human Development and Capability Association, President of the Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, member of the High Level Advisory Council of the Climate Justice Dialogue, and member of the Core Group of the Commission on Global Poverty.