Brief Profile

Prof. Vivek Bhandari has spent over twenty five years in academia, while also working closely with the government, corporate, and civil society sectors.

From 2006 to 2011, Prof. Bhandari was the Director, and Professor of Social Science at the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA)—one of India’s youngest B-School directors at the time. Before joining IRMA, he was a faculty member at Hampshire College in Amherst, USA for just under a decade. He was a Visiting Scholar, Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI) at the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, and has also served as Ratan Tata Chair (Visiting) Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) from 2012 to 2015. He was Distinguished Professor, Institute of Health Management Research (IIHMR), Jaipur, where he founded IIHMR’s School of Rural Management; and later went on to serve as President of IIHMR University. He is a founding faculty member of the Young India Fellowship Program, now an integral initiative of Ashoka University, New Delhi. He has been visiting faculty at the National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad, for several years. From 2019 to 2021, Prof. Bhandari was a Visiting Fellow at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad. Most recently, he was on the faculty of Krea University.

Prof. Bhandari has worked closely with India’s leading philanthropic trusts, such as the Reliance Foundation, the Tata Trusts, as well as international multilateral agencies to provide strategic direction for their initiatives, and to enable them to work effectively with India’s large network of livelihood initiatives. He has guided these foundations on issues of institution building, strategy, and impact investing. He continues to serve on the Board of CARE India, and the Fabindia Foundation. Because of his growing interest in issues of financial technology and rural livelihoods, since 2017 Prof. Bhandari has been serving as chairman and independent director of the Jio Payments Bank, a joint venture of the State Bank of India and Reliance Jio.

Prof. Bhandari is an alumnus of St. Stephen’s College, Delhi (where he completed his BA and MA). He then attended the University of Pennsylvania, from where he received a second MA in South Asian Studies, and his Ph.D. He has lectured extensively, and his writings in the fields of international political economy, management, and development studies have appeared in journals such as the Journal of Asian Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, in edited volumes, and reference works such as the International Encyclopedia for the Social Sciences, the Encyclopedia of Modern Asia, and most recently, in the Encyclopedia of Sustainability. He has provided on-air commentary for National Public Radio (NPR) in the US; and has been interviewed by a variety of Indian newspapers and magazines such as The Times of India, Indian Express, Mint, and the Hindustan Times; as well as Outlook and India Today. He has published columns for magazines such as Seminar, and Democratic World, and also written a children’s book on Gandhi for DK Books (a part of Penguin Random House).

In 2008, Business Today magazine included Prof. Bhandari in its list of “India’s Top 25 Young Executives under the age of 40.” He has also worked closely with the World Economic Forum, Geneva. Prof. Bhandari has served on the boards of numerous professional and academic institutions, as well as committees convened by the Indian government on matters pertaining to rural development. These include the Reserve Bank of India’s CAB (Pune); Council for Science and Technology for Rural India, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India; Academic Council, National Institute of Rural Development, Hyderabad; among others.