Jairam Ramesh Birthday Special: Facts to know about IITian-turned-Congress leader

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, April 07, 2022, 11:10 AM IST
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Congress leader Jairam Ramesh |

Born of April 9, 1954, Jairam Ramesh is an Indian economist, historian and politician belonging to Indian National Congress. He is a Member of Parliament representing Karnataka state in the Rajya Sabha. Born to CK Ramesh and Sridevi, Jairam considers himself a practising Hindu with Buddhism ingrained and calls himself a 'Hind-Budh'.

Since childhood, Jairam has been strongly influenced by Jawaharlal Nehru. He was fascinated by Nehru's modern approach to life, his bringing change in a traditional society and his liberal, humanist, rational approach to life, religion, men and civic matters. He considers himself a product of the Nehruvian era in many ways. An additional influence was Mahatma Gandhi, whom he originally saw as anti-modern, anti-science and anti-West.

As he grew older and read Gandhi more and viewed him in the political and historical context in which he operated, he came to appreciate and acknowledge Gandhi much more. He has also studied Rabindranath Tagore deeply.

As the veteran leader turns 68 this year, here are some facts you must know about him

Jairam Ramesh's Personal Life and Education:

Ramesh was married to K. R. Jayashree on 26 January 1981 and currently resides at Lodi Gardens, Rajesh Pilot Marg, New Delhi. However, his wife died in early 2019. Till his election to Rajya Sabha from Karnataka in July 2016, his permanent residence was at Khairatabad, Hyderabad, Telangana.

Jairam attended St. Xavier's School, Ranchi in 1961–1963 in classes 3 to 5. He read Paul Samuelson (an American economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1970) and found him very interesting. His presentation, the substance of issues such as population and growth got him thinking of economics and the larger issues of life. Also when he was 17, in 1971, he read Asian Drama, one of the early books of Gunnar Myrdal (a Swedish economist who won the Nobel Prize in 1974) and wrote to him at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Myrdal sent a very nice reply and said to stay in touch with him.

Further, he graduated from IIT Bombay in 1975 with a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering. Between 1975–77 he studied at Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College and received a Master of Science in Public Policy and Public Management. In 1977–78, he started on the Doctoral program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he had planned to study technology policy, economics, engineering, and management, as part of the newly established interdisciplinary technology policy programme. Family exigencies required him to return to India and that program remained incomplete.

He is a founding member of the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and is a member of the International Council of the New York-based Asia Society. Jairam has been a Visiting Fellow and Affiliated Researcher of the Institute of Chinese Studies, New Delhi, since 2002.

Highlights of Jairam Ramesh's career:

Jairam did a brief stint at Business India, once the pre-eminent business fortnightly owned by Ashok Advani. That began his association with tiger researcher Valmik Thapar‘s sister Malavika Singh, the eminence grise of Business India who launched the company’s now-defunct business channel, BiTV. Jairam was part of Malavika Singh gossip sessions with such worthies as Navin Patnaik, now Orissa chief minister, in attendance, and now carries the tag of being an ace gossip.

Jairam dropped out of a PhD program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) after getting a master of science (MS) in public management at the Heinz College at Carnegie-Mellon University in 1977 to take a job at the World Bank.

Upon his return, he did a stint as a backroom boy with economist Lovraj Kumar and was an Officer on Special Duty in V.P. Singh government. He became a key fixture in Manmohan Singh‘s finance ministry in the Narasimha Rao regime.

Jairam is known to draft many of Sonia Gandhi‘s English speeches. He wrote and re-wrote the UPA’s Common Minimum Programme in 2004 on his Fujitsu notebook at 99 South Avenue six times.

The Congress leader then participated in India's economic reforms in 1991 and 1997. He was advisor to the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission in 1992–94, served on special mission to Jammu and Kashmir during 1993–95 and was advisor to Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram between 1996–98.

He also served as Secretary in the All India Congress Committee, Deputy Chairman of the Karnataka Planning Board (2000–2002), member of the Rajasthan Development Council (1999–2003), and Economic Advisor to the government of the state of Chhattisgarh (2001–03). He was a member of the Congress Party's electoral strategy team for the 2004 Lok Sabha cycle.

In February 2009, with the 15th Lok Sabha elections approaching, he led the party's Poll Strategy Panel.

He was given independent charge of Environment and Forests as Minister of State in the Congress-led administration following his 2009 re-election to the Indian Parliament.

Currently, Jairam has been appointed as a member of a board which provides strategic policy advice to a key UN agency on environmentally-sound technologies for developing nations.

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