Deepak Nayyar

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A profile

From the archives of India Today , July 16, 2009

Change is crucial for them and they come in all forms, from one-man armies to science revolutionaries, as institution builders and innovators. Redefining, restructuring and modernisation are the words that are their bookends. As Deepak Nayyar, economics professor from Jawaharlal Nehru University said, “Academics don’t work with stock options. It’s usually the rave reviews, the papers published or the ideas that catch on.”

Turning point

Quitting the IAS in 1975. “I was never cut out to be a civil servant.”


Portrait photography, cinema (he founded Delhi University’s film society,Celluloid) and bridge.

He has been a Rhodes scholar, an IAS officer, and chief economic adviser to three governments. But the job he is best regarded for is that of vice-chancellor of Delhi University between 2000 and 2005. “The classroom is my natural home,” says Deepak Nayyar, who spent five years at St. Stephen’s College between 1962 and 1967.

From revamping the B.A. Pass course, where two-thirds of those who studied did not graduate, to restoring the majesty of the Viceregal Lodge; from making 500 faculty appointments to creating 1,000 more seats in the woefully crowded hostels, he’s done it all. With role models such as economists C.D. Deshmukh and K.N. Raj, institution builders both, it is no surprise he believes that change is possible not by fiat or by edict, but an ever-widening circle of stakeholders.

Now professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Nayyar, who spent his childhood in eight different mofussil schools, from a tent in Chandigarh to the Hindi-medium Adarsh Bal Vidyamandir in Hissar, firmly believes that institutions are larger than the individuals but individuals can, and do, make a difference.

-by Kaveree Bamzai

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