Viral Acharya: The Economist Who Stood for RBI’s Independence

Viral Acharya: A Visionary Economist and Guardian of RBI’s Autonomy

Viral Acharya, born on 1st March 1974, is an illustrious Indian economist who made significant contributions as the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). His career is a testament to excellence in academia, finance, and public service.

Acharya’s journey from a promising student to a renowned economist reflects his unwavering commitment to his principles and his determination to impact the financial world.

Early Life and Education of Viral Acharya

Viral Acharya’s story begins in Mumbai, where he attended Fellowship High School. His brilliance was evident early on when he ranked fifth nationally in the 1991 Joint Entrance Examination, securing admission to the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT).

Acharya graduated from IIT Bombay in 1995 with a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and Engineering, achieving the highest grade point average in his batch and receiving the President of India Gold Medal.

His initial foray into computer science at New York University soon pivoted towards finance, a decision that would shape his illustrious career. Enrolling in the PhD program in finance at the NYU Stern School of Business, Acharya completed his dissertation on “Essays in Banking and Financial Institutions” in 2001, setting the stage for a distinguished academic and professional journey.

Academic Career

After earning his PhD, Acharya joined the London Business School (LBS), where he served from 2001 to 2008. His expertise and dedication were recognized when he became the Academic Director of the Coller Institute of Private Equity at LBS. Acharya’s academic prowess earned him a Houblon-Norman Senior Fellowship at the Bank of England in 2008.

Since 2008, Viral Acharya has been associated with the New York University Stern School of Business, holding the prestigious C.V. Starr Professor of Economics chair. His research and teachings have significantly influenced the fields of banking and financial institutions, contributing to policy-making and financial regulation worldwide.

Reserve Bank of India

Viral Acharya’s appointment as Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of India in December 2016 marked a pivotal moment in his career. His tenure, starting from January 2017, was characterized by his forthrightness and commitment to maintaining the RBI’s autonomy.

Acharya’s bold stance on financial stability and his critique of government interference in central banking affairs made him a notable figure in India’s economic landscape.

Despite his significant contributions, Viral Acharya resigned from his post in June 2019, six months before the end of his term. His resignation was seen as a principled stand against policies he believed undermined the RBI’s independence.

Acharya’s tenure at the RBI highlighted the challenges of balancing economic policies with governmental expectations and showcased his unwavering dedication to his principles.

Personal Interests and Achievements

Beyond his professional accomplishments, Viral Acharya is a man of diverse talents. He has a passion for music and has composed an album titled “Yaadon Ke Silsile,” reflecting his creative side. Acharya’s ability to blend his analytical mind with creative pursuits underscores the multifaceted nature of his personality.

His contributions to economics have been recognized globally. Viral Acharya received the Alexandre Lamfalussy Senior Research Fellowship of the Bank for International Settlements in 2017 and the inaugural Banque de France and Toulouse School of Economics Junior Prize in Monetary Economics and Finance in 2011. These accolades highlight his influence and impact on global economic thought and policy.

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