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RBI's New Deputy Governor Viral Acharya Has A Fun Hobby And It's Not Number-Crunching

Musician, computer engineer, economist rolled in one.

29/12/2016 9:38 AM IST | Updated 24/02/2017 8:52 PM IST
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Viral V. Acharya, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Viral V. Acharya, who was appointed the youngest deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) at the age of 42, cuts an unlikely figure in the prosaic world of finance. In spite of having authored several formidable articles, riddled with jargon that eludes lesser mortals, he has an ear for music and is an avowed fan of singer Kishore Kumar.

An accomplished lyricist and music composer, Acharya has an album called Yaadon Ke Silsile: An Ode To Friends... And Some Romantic Moods, to his credit. Music, as The Economic Times reported, is more than a hobby to his brilliant academic. Whatever money he makes from it goes into funding Pratham, which is a charity focusing on children's education.

Acharya's scholarly pursuits have been diverse, even maverick, to an extent. An outstanding student of the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay (IIT-B), he was trained as computer scientist and began a PhD in the US. Within a year, he shifted to finance and obtained a doctorate in the subject. Currently, a professor of finance at the Stern School of Business, New York University, he has earlier taught at the London School of Business.

Acharya, who will take over the job on 20 January 2017, will be filling in the vacancy left behind by the elevation of Urjit Patel as governor of the RBI. He will be taking over the portfolio of monetary policy and research.

Known for his work on financial stability, Acharya is an advocate of reforms in public sector banks. Having gone to college the year Manmohan Singh opened up the Indian economy in 1991, his views on regulation are also strong. In several papers, he has suggested better governance and eventual privatisation of some of the public sector banks in the long run.

"I am absolutely proposing, either explicitly or implicitly, that we separate the unhealthy parts of the troubled banks from the healthy parts," he said in an interview with Bloomberg Quint earlier this year.

In his earlier non-academic appointments, he has been on the advisory council of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) Training Institute and an academic advisor to the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago, Cleveland, New York and Philadelphia among others.

With a list of publications that runs into pages, Acharya has notably co-authored papers with former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, who he describes as a "great source of inspiration" to him.

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