Ramji Raghavan

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Ramji Raghavan
Alma materLondon Business School International Institute of Social Studies
University of Delhi
OccupationFounder and Chairman,
Agastya International Foundation
Known forAgastya International Foundation

Ramji Raghavan is a social innovator and entrepreneur. He is the founder and chairman of Agastya International Foundation,[1] a Non Profit Organization, sparking curiosity (Aah!), creativity (Aha!) and confidence (Ha-Ha!)[2] amongst underprivileged children and government school teachers in India.[3] Ramji is a member of the Central Advisory Board of Education, Government of India, and the Governing Council of the Marico Innovation Foundation. He has also served as a board member of Vigyan Prasar[4] and as a member of the Working Group on Attracting Children to Science and Math of the Prime Minister's National Knowledge Commission.[5] Ramiji is a well-recognized public speaker and has spoken at the Education World Forum,[6] the annual INK Conference in association with TED,[7] the Clinton Global Initiative, Harvard India Conference, MIT Media Lab,[8] Peking University, Indian Institute of Science,[9] the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research[10] the PanIIT Conference,[11] the Confederation of Indian Industry, Deshpande Development Dialogue, the Indian Institute of Management – Bangalore, the WISE Summit 2014, Qatar and Indiaspora, USA and RAFT- Resource Area For Teaching, Bay Area, USA. He has also addressed school and university students, faculty, entrepreneurs and corporate leaders and executives at Honeywell, IBM, Morgan Stanley, Bosch, E&Y, ASCENT Foundation, EdelWeiss, Reliance and Google on curiosity, creativity, innovation and leadership.

Early life and education[edit]

Ramji was raised in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Calcutta where his father KV Raghavan[12] served as Managing Director of the ICI Group company, Alkali and Chemical Corporation of India Limited and later as Chairman of Engineers India Limited and President of EID Parry Limited.[13] Ramji's father and his maternal uncle, Dr. P. K. Iyengar, former Chairman of the Indian Atomic Energy Commission were founder trustees of Agastya International Foundation.[14] A product of Rishi Valley School,[15] founded by the philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti, Ramji was early on exposed to the power of self-awareness to create social change and dreamt of building a school for creative leaders in India.[16] With support from the government of Andhra Pradesh, Ramji and his colleagues established a 172-acre campus creativity lab near Bangalore[17]. In 2007 Agastya signed a MoU with stock market investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, which helped Agastya to scale its outreach activity and build its creative campus[18]. In 2010 the Government of Karnataka signed a MoU with Agastya International Foundation to establish an ecosystem for hands-on science education[19] in the state. Wisdom of Agastya, an illustrated book authored by Vasant Nayak and Shay Taylor of the MurthyNayak Foundation[20] in Baltimore, USA, chronicles Ramji and his team's journey between 1999 and 2014 in building Agastya International Foundation. Ramji is married to Monica (née Sanghani), great great granddaughter of Devkaran Nanjee, the founder of Dena Bank. Ramji holds an MBA from the London Business School and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Development Studies from The International Institute of Social Studies, The Netherlands. He graduated from Hans Raj College, University of Delhi.[21]


As per popular media, Ramji started his career as a consultant with A. F. Ferguson & Co., followed by Citibank in India, Puerto Rico and New York City. Later he worked with the Europe based Cedel Group as Director and member of the Strategic Advisory Group.[22]

In 1998, Ramji left his commercial career in banking and finance to create Agastya International Foundation,[23] which has reached creative hands-on science education to over 12 million underprivileged children and 250,000 government school teachers across India.[24] Under Ramji Agastya has pioneered many educational innovations at scale, including mobile science labs, lab-on-a-bike and peer-to-peer learning via mega science fairs for underprivileged children. Agastya’s 172-acre campus creativity lab houses over fifteen experiential science, art and innovation centers, including the Ramanujan Math Park. In the late 1980s, Ramji met Janaki Ammal, wife of the mathematical genius, Srinivasa Ramanujan in Triplicane, Madras. In a blog appearing in a TIFR journal[25], Ramji mentions Mrs. Ramanujan telling him that “no one remembers my husband anymore.” More than a decade later, a bust of Ramanujan was installed in the Agastya campus creativity lab [26]. Identical busts were installed in the Institute of Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore and the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.


In 2009, Ramji was elected as a senior fellow by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public.[27] In 2011, Ramji was featured on Indian TV channel Times Now[28] in its program Amazing Indians and honoured with the People's Hero award by the Coimbatore unit of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) at its silver jubilee celebrations.[29] In 2012, Ramji was featured on CNBC Awaaz’s program "Bharat Bhagya Vidhata".[30] Under Ramji's chairmanship Agastya International Foundation won the Google Global Impact Award 2013 and was ranked by The Rockefeller Foundation NextCentury Awards among the top 100 global innovators. In 2016 Ramji received the Deshpande Foundation's Sandbox Catalyst Award from Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus and the Innovation for India award from the Marico Innovation Foundation[31] Ramji and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala were also featured on CNBC TV's Daan Utsav programme.[32] In 2017 Ramji was awarded The Rotary Club of Madras East Vocational Skilling Excellence Award.[33] He was also featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review.[34] In 2019 Agastya received an Andhra Pradesh State Green Award for its work in regenerating the ecosystem of its 172-acre campus, documented in a book, 'The Roots of Creativity'.[35] In 2020 Ramji and Agastya International Foundation were featured in the book, 7 Sutras of Innovation by Nikhil Inamdar [36], which tracks the journeys of eight organizations that have scaled up to become top players in their own fields and are transforming India.


  1. ^ Ramji Raghavan : "http://forbesindia.com/article/web-special/the-art-of-giving/27402/1
  2. ^ Aravind, Indulekha (8 November 2014). "From Ah to ha ha". Business Standard India. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  3. ^ Better India Article “http://www.thebetterindia.com/1437/agastya-sparking-creativity-rural-india/
  4. ^ Vigyan Prasar Member: “http://www.vigyanprasar.gov.in/annualreport/Vigyan_Prasar_Annual_Report_Eng.pdf
  5. ^ Prime Minister NKC Working Group Member "http://www.knowledgecommission.gov.in/downloads/report2009/eng/report09.pdf
  6. ^ Education World Forum Speech: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_u-odJKprvU"
  7. ^ INK Speaker: “http://www.inktalks.com/people/ramji-raghavan
  8. ^ MIT: "http://www.media.mit.edu/node/3417
  9. ^ IISc : ”http://www.iisc.ernet.in/centenary-conf/ramji.html
  10. ^ TIFR: "http://www.tifr.res.in/~aset/article_Ramji_Raghavan_blog.html
  11. ^ Pan IIT Speaker List 2008: “http://www.paniit2008.org/program/education.htm
  12. ^ Mr. KV Raghavan: "http://www.pelgel.com/annrep0405.pdf
  13. ^ Mr. KV Raghavan: “http://www.educationworldonline.net/index.php/page-article-choice-more-id-3091
  14. ^ Late Dr. PK Iyengar: "http://indiawest.com/news/2321-Eminent-Nuclear-Scientist-P-K--Iyengar-Dies-at-80.html
  15. ^ RVS Alumni Details: “http://www.rvs.org/misc/specials/bw_ramji.html
  16. ^ Think Change India Article: "http://www.thinkchangeindia.org/2010/02/04/firing-the-hungry-spirit-of-rural-children/
  17. ^ Aiyar, S.A. (18 April 2019). "This island of excellence stands out in a rotten educational system". The Times of India. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  18. ^ "Expanding Eureka!". Governance Now. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  19. ^ "The spark in the classroom". Governance Now. 18 April 2019. Retrieved 24 July 2019.
  20. ^ "The MurthyNAYAK Foundation – Baltimore to Bangalore… Every Life Matters!". murthynayak.org. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  21. ^ Education Background: “http://firstgiversclub.giveindia.org/2011/06/28/ramji-raghavan/
  22. ^ Corporate Engagement with Citi and Cedel: "http://www.educationworldonline.net/index.php/page-article-choice-more-id-3091"
  23. ^ Forbes - New Wealth, New Priorities: "https://www.forbes.com/2006/10/04/leadership-philanthropy-charity-lead-citizen-cx_tw_1004wood.html"
  24. ^ "Agastya International Foundation | Bringing Science To India's Children". www.agastya.org. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  25. ^ "'TIFR Journals'". www.tifr.res.in.
  26. ^ "'Agastya International Foundation - Wikipedia'". Wikipedia.org.
  27. ^ Senior Ashoka Fellow: "http://www.ashoka.org/node/5893/"
  28. ^ Amazing Indians Times Now:"http://www.timesnow.tv/Amazing-Indians-Global-Indian/videoshow/4383265.cms"
  29. ^ People's Hero Award: "http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-12-01/coimbatore/30462685_1_honour-cii-silver-jubilee-celebrations"
  30. ^ CNBC Awaaz: Bharat Bhagya Vidhata: "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=112MtTiWzyA"
  31. ^ "Aha moments". chinadailyhk. Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  32. ^ CNBC-TV18 (4 October 2016), Daan Utsav with Rakesh Jhunjhunwala - 1, retrieved 28 September 2017
  33. ^ "Vocational excellence award presented". The Hindu. 3 February 2017. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  34. ^ "Why Indian Nonprofits Are Experts at Scaling Up (SSIR)". Retrieved 28 September 2017.
  35. ^ "The Roots of Creativity- Ecology at Agastya". Issuu. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  36. ^ "Nikhil Inamdar - Penguin India". penguin.co.in. Retrieved 11 September 2019.

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