- The list released by Apolitical, a UK-based global platform for government, recognizes academics working in five timely policy areas that represent problems being faced by governments everywhere.
Gita Gopinath, the first deputy managing director at the International Monetary Fund; Nitin Nohria, former dean of Harvard Business School; and Pradeep Khosla, chancellor, University of California San Diego are among eight Indian Americans listed in Apolitical’s 100 Most Influential Academics in Government. Also listed is India’s most influential public intellectual Pratap Bhanu Mehta, an acerbic critic of the Narendra Modi government.
Apolitical describes itself as “the first global platform for government that helps public servants find the ideas, experts and partners they need to solve the hardest challenges facing our societies. Our mission is to help make governments work better for citizens everywhere.” The list recognizes academics working in five timely policy areas that represent problems being faced by governments everywhere, says the London-based website. It highlights work that’s influenced the policymaking process by providing insights into policy problems, contributing innovative ideas and solutions, or adding relevant and informative data. Each nominee on the list is committed to improving the work of government, and their research has already made an impact.
Gita Gopinath, who is listed in the Economics category is the first woman to serve as IMF’s chief economist. She was appointed to her new position in December to replace Geoffrey Okamoto. Before her appointment at IMF, she was the John Zwaanstra Professor of International Studies and Economics at Harvard University. At IMF Gopinath has worked on several initiatives including authoring the “Pandemic Paper” on how to end the COVID-19 pandemic. The India-born Gopinath is a U.S. citizen and an Overseas Citizen of India. She received her Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2001 after earning a B.A. from Lady Shri Ram College and M.A. degrees from Delhi School of Economics and University of Washington. She was also a member of the economic advisory panel of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, economic adviser to the Chief Minister of Kerala, and member of the Eminent Persons Advisory Group on G-20 Matters for India’s Ministry of Finance. Before joining Harvard in 2005, she was an assistant professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Joining Gopinath in the Economics category is Karthik Muralidharan, the Tata Chancellor’s Professor of Economics at the University of California, San Diego; and Rohini Pande, the Henry J. Heinz II Professor of Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center at Yale University.
Karthik Muralidharan, who was born and raised in India, earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University (summa cum laude), an M.Phil. in economics from Cambridge University (ranked first), and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University. His research spans development, public, and labor economics with a focus on improving the effectiveness of public spending in the social sector. He is a research associate of the NBER, on the Board of Directors of the Poverty Action Lab at MIT where he is co-chair of the education research program and a Fellow and Board Member of the Bureau of Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD). He is actively involved in policy advising and capacity building in India at both the central and state government level writes a column on economic policy for the Hindustan Times and teaches a popular course on the Indian Economy at UCSD.
Rohini Pande is a co-editor of American Economic Review: Insights. Her research is largely focused on how formal and informal institutions shape power relationships and patterns of economic and political advantage in society, particularly in developing countries. She is interested in the role of public policy in providing the poor and disadvantaged political and economic power, and how notions of economic justice and human rights can help justify and enable such change. Her work focuses on testing innovative ways to make the state more accountable to its citizens, such as strengthening women’s economic and political opportunities, ensuring that environmental regulations reduce harmful emissions, and providing citizens effective means to voice their demand for state services. In 2018, Pande received the Carolyn Bell Shaw Award from the American Economic Association for promoting the success of women in the economics profession. Before coming to Yale, Pande was the Rafik Harriri Professor of International Political Economy at Harvard Kennedy School, where she co-founded Evidence for Policy Design. She got a Ph.D. in economics from the London School of Economics, a BA/MA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from Oxford University and a BA in Economics from Delhi University.
Listed in the Recovery from Covid-19 section is Anup Malani, the Lee and Brena Freeman Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, a Professor at the Pritzker School of Medicine, and a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research in Boston. He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. He conducts research in development economics, health economics and law and economics. During the COVID pandemic, Malani led a modeling team that developed a forecasting model and method of adaptive control for COVID in India; that model was used to inform policy in Bihar and in Indonesia. He has studied how Indian households adapted financially to COVID and the impact of COVID on individual income inequality in India. Before the pandemic, he was the principal investigator for the Indian Health Insurance Experiment, an 11,000 household evaluation of India’s first national health insurance program. He is the co-founder and faculty director of the International Innovation Corps, a social service program that sends postgraduates to work on innovative projects with government officials in India and the U.S. He has a J.D. and Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. He was a law clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court and the founding Faculty Director of the Tata Centre for Development at the University of Chicago.
Listed along with Malani is Manoj Mohanan, Associate Professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, with secondary appointments in the Department of Economics and the Duke Global Health Institute. His research focuses primarily on the economics of health and development, and health policy. His past research has examined topics including performance incentive contracts, public-private partnerships, quality of care, social franchising, accountability interventions, and household health behavior across multiple countries. These studies have been published in several of the top journals in economics, health policy, and medicine. His research also contributed to early evidence on COVID from seroprevalence studies in India. His ongoing research aims to understand the long-term consequences of large-scale disruptions caused by the pandemic and its effect on the vulnerability of households. Mohanan was trained as a health economist at Harvard University’s Inter-Faculty Ph.D. Program in Health Policy (Economics), and also holds additional degrees in public health and medicine.
Also named on the list is Devesh Kapur, director of Asia Programs and Starr Foundation Professor of South Asian Studies at The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies; Nitin Nohria, the George F. Baker Professor of Administration at Harvard; and Pradeep Khosla, chancellor, University of California San Diego.
Devesh Kapur joined the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in July 2018 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a professor of Political Science and director of the Center for the Advanced Study of India, holding the Madan Lal Sobti Chair for the Study of Contemporary India. Before his tenure at Penn, he was associate professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, and the Frederick Danziger Associate Professor of Government at Harvard. Kapur received the Joseph R. Levenson Teaching Prize, awarded to the best junior faculty at Harvard College and Outstanding Teaching in Political Science by the American Political Science Association, in 2005. His research has focused on five broad areas that examine the political and institutional determinants of economic development: international financial institutions; political and economic consequences of international and internal migration; the effects of market forces and urbanization on the well-being of socially marginalized groups in India; governance and public institutions; and higher education. He has a BTech in Chemical Engineering from IIT (BHU) Varanasi; MS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Minnesota; Ph.D. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.
Nitin Nohria served as the tenth dean of Harvard Business School from 2010 to 2020 and is currently a professor of Administration. He previously served as co-chair of the Leadership Initiative, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty Development, and Head of the Organizational Behavior unit. Nohria’s intellectual interests center on human motivation, leadership, corporate transformation and accountability, and sustainable economic and human performance. He is co-author or co-editor of 16 books. The most recent, “Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice,” is a compendium dedicated to advancing research on leadership based on a colloquium he organized during HBS’s centennial celebrations. Before joining the Harvard Business School faculty in July 1988, Nohria received his Ph.D. in Management from the Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B. Tech. in Chemical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (which honored him as a Distinguished Alumnus in 2007). He was a visiting faculty member at the London Business School in 1996. He and his wife live in the Boston area and have two daughters.
Pradeep Khosla’s research interests encompass the areas of internet-enabled collaborative design, collaborating autonomous systems, agent-based architectures for distributed design and embedded control, software composition and reconfigurable software for real-time embedded systems, reconfigurable and distributed robotic systems, integrated design-assembly planning systems and distributed information systems. His research has resulted in three books and more than 350 journal articles and conference and book contributions. He is also the founding director of the Carnegie Mellon CyLab and the Institute for Complex Engineered Systems, which pursues interdisciplinary projects/ Khosla is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He is an Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Science. His other awards include the 2012 Light of India Award, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the W. Wallace McDowell Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Computer Society.
Also included in the list is Pratap Bhanu Mehta, the Laurance S. Rockefeller Visiting Professor for Distinguished Teaching at Princeton University. He has previously taught at Harvard University, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and the New York University School of Law. Last March, Mehta resigned from Ashoka University as a professor when trustees Pramath Raj Sinha and Ashish Dhawan reportedly told him that they could no longer protect his intellectual interventions. The circumstances of Mehta’s resignation also led to protests across Ashoka University, where he previously served as vice-chancellor. Mehta’s areas of research include political theory, constitutional law, society and politics in India, governance and political economy, and international affairs. Mehta has served on many central government committees, including India’s National Security Advisory Board, the Prime Minister of India’s National Knowledge Commission, and a Supreme Court-appointed committee on elections in Indian universities. He holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Oxford and a Ph.D. in politics from Princeton. He received the 2010 Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Award and the 2011 Infosys Prize for Social Sciences — Political Science.