Sanjeev Sanyal

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Sanjeev Sanyal is an Indian economist, writer, environmentalist, and urban theorist. Currently, he is the Principal Economic Adviser in the Ministry of Finance, Government of India.[1][2] A Rhodes Scholar and Eisenhower Fellow, he was named "Young Global Leader 2010" by the World Economic Forum at Davos.[3] He is widely regarded as one of Asia's leading economists[4][2] and was Deutsche Bank's Global Strategist and a Managing Director till 2015.[4][5] He is also the author of several books including "The Indian Renaissance: India's Rise after a Thousand Years of Decline",[6] "Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India's Geography",[7] "The Incredible History of India's Geography", The Ocean of Churn: How human history was shaped by the Indian Ocean and Life Over Two Beers.[8] [9]


Sanjeev Sanyal is currently the Principal Economic Adviser to the Indian government.[10] He also serves as the co-chair of the Framework Working Group of the G20 and represents India on a number of international forums.[11]

Till he joined the government, Sanyal had worked in financial markets since the mid-nineties. He was Managing Director and Global Strategist at Deutsche Bank till 2015.[12][4][2]

Sanyal is well known for applying chaos theory and the Complex Adaptive Systems framework to economic and urban issues.[13] He is seen as a strong advocate of using a codified insolvency and bankruptcy processes to allow creative destruction in an evolving economy. He has argued that conventional economists are wrong to demand perpetual "global balance". His view is that all periods of economic growth are characterized by some form of symbiotic imbalance and that the focus should be on managing the distortions caused by the imbalance rather than forcing a return to some preconceived equilibrium. Therefore, his view is that the next round of global growth will only be sustained if the rest of the world can find a way to absorb waves of cheap capital emanating from China. This implies a return to global imbalances.[14] According to an analysis by Sanyal in 2013, the UN's widely used population forecasts were flawed. He claimed that population growth was likely to be much slower than the U.N.’s estimate.[15]

Sanjeev Sanyal is also an environmentalist and expert on the economics of cities.[16] He has been a strong advocate of including "walkability" and organic evolution in the way we think of cities.[17] He has been member of the Steering Committee of Urban Age at LSE Cities and is also a Senior Fellow of the World Wildlife Fund. He is the co-founder and Director of GIST - a think-tank that is a pioneer in the field of environmental accounting.[18] He has been closely involved with Aavishkaar MicroVenture Fund which won the UN's World Business Award for 2006. He has been an Adjunct Fellow of the Institute of Policy Studies at the National University of Singapore, a Visiting Scholar at Oxford University, Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society (UK) and Senior Fellow of IDFC Institute (Mumbai). [19] In 2009, he joined the Board of Governors of AFPRO, one of India's largest organisations working on food security and has also advised the UK government, United Nations Environment Programme, and other international agencies. Till 2016, he was a member of the Future City Committee of the Singapore government that was tasked with creating a long term vision for the city-state.[8]

He writes columns for the Hindustan Times,[20] Project Syndicate, The Times of India,[21] Live Mint,[22] Business Standard, and several other publications.[17][23]

Awards and recognition[edit]

Sanjeev Sanyal was named Young Global Leader for 2010 by the World Economic Forum in Davos, an honour given to select individuals below the age of 40 for outstanding contributions across disciplines including politics, academia, sports, business, and art. He is a Rhodes Scholar (1992–95) and was also awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship in 2007 for his work on urban systems.[24] In 2008, CNBC profiled him as a "Young Turk" in recognition to his contributions to Asia's financial markets.[25] The Singapore government honored him as a Young Leader 2014 at the World Cities Summit held in June 2014.[26]

In July 2014, Sanyal won the first International Indian Achiever's Award for his contributions to Literature at the inaugural gala event in Mumbai.[27] The award is given every year to Indians who have excelled in different fields on the international stage. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, London and of IDFC Institute Mumbai.[5]


Sanjeev Sanyal was born in Kolkata and studied at St. Xavier's School and St. James' School. He attended Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University and St John's College, Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar representing India (1992–1995).[28]. He is married to Smita Barooah,an Assamese who is also a writer and a photographer.[29], [30]

Sanyal comes from a family that played an important role in India's freedom struggle against British colonial rule. His great grandfather Nalinaksha Sanyal was the Chief Whip of the Congress Party in the provincial assembly of undivided Bengal and a vocal opponent of colonial policies during the Bengal Famine of 1943. His granduncle was Sachindra Nath Sanyal who was one of the founders of the revolutionary movement and a mentor to revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad.[31]


  • The Indian Renaissance: India's Rise after a Thousand Years of Decline[32]
  • Land of the Seven Rivers: A Brief History of India's Geography[33]
  • The Ocean of Churn: How human history was shaped by the Indian Ocean [34]
  • Life Over Two Beers[35]
  • India In The Age Of Ideas: Select Writings: 2006-2018 [36]


  1. ^ "Sanjeev Sanyal appointed principal economic adviser in Finance Ministry - Times of India".
  2. ^ a b c "How I made it: Sanjeev Sanyal". India Today.
  3. ^ "Young Global Leaders". World Economic Forum.
  4. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 April 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ a b "Sanjeev Sanyal - New Cities Summit 2016".
  6. ^ "Friedman tops non-fiction bestseller list".
  7. ^ results, search (13 January 2013). "Land Of Seven Rivers: History Of India's Geography". Penguin – via Amazon.
  8. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 November 2016. Retrieved 16 November 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^ Chakraborty, Shrim (25 February 2015). "Modi's first full year Budget".
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Global research" (PDF).
  15. ^ Norris, Floyd. "Population Growth Forecast From the U.N. May Be Too High".
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 6 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ a b "Sanjeev Sanyal" – via Business Standard.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 7 October 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^
  20. ^ "This excerpt from a book demolishes Ashoka's reputation as pacifist". 5 August 2016.
  21. ^ "Why India needs to no longer be an Ashokan republic, but a Chanakyan one".
  22. ^ Sanyal, Sanjeev (15 June 2015). "Our history books need rewriting".
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 November 2011. Retrieved 6 November 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  24. ^ "Young Global Leaders". World Economic Forum.
  25. ^ Sanjeev Sanyal Vinayak Lohani - IIT Alumni Association Singapore[permanent dead link]
  26. ^ "Mr Sanjeev Sanyal - World Cities Summit".
  27. ^ "Bollywood celebs at International Indian Achievers Awards". 30 July 2014.
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 September 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Shaheed from Varanasi". Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2013.
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^

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