Vivek Bhandari

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Vivek Bhandari
Born (1970-03-04) March 4, 1970 (age 47)
Nationality Indian
Known for Director of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and faculty member, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA

Vivek Bhandari is an Indian academic, and served as the 11th Director of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), a pioneering management school located in Gujarat, India. He was one of the youngest business school directors in India when he took over this responsibility. Before this, he was a faculty member at Hampshire College, a politically progressive liberal arts college located in Amherst, MA, USA.

Early life and Education[edit]

Bhandari was raised in different towns of Rajasthan (India). He completed his undergraduate studies in History from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, and then a Master’s in Modern History from the University of Delhi. He went on to do a second MA in South Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA, and proceeded to complete his PhD from the same university.[1]


After completing his education, Bhandari became a tenured faculty member in the School of Social Science at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA, in the USA. In this capacity, he also taught and researched collaboratively at academic institutions in the Five College Consortium (which includes Amherst College, Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst) located in Massachusetts, USA.

In 2007, Bhandari returned to India as director of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), a position he held until mid-2011. In his tenure, IRMA grew significantly in size and stature, and was able to impact policy at the national level in a variety of fields related to rural development.[2] As a result, the institute also received national and international recognitions under his leadership, most notably from the Canadian agency, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), as well as ministries in the Government of India.[3]

From 2011 to 2015, Bhandari served as a consultant to a variety of philanthropic trusts and foundations such as the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Sir Ratan Tata Trust, and the Reliance Foundation. As an independent researcher, he was closely associated with a number of grassroots organizations working on issues of rural development, livelihoods, education, and gender rights. He was also affiliated with the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers Program from 2012 to 2014.

In 2010, Bhandari spent time at the Center for the Advanced Study of India (CASI), University of Pennsylvania as a visiting scholar.[4] In 2013, he was appointed Ratan Tata (Visiting) Chair Professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. He also served as a founding faculty member of the Young India Fellowship Program in New Delhi.[5]. Over the years, Bhandari has been associated with Ambedkar University (Delhi), IIHMR University (Jaipur), and the College of Agricultural Banking (an affiliate of the Reserve Bank of India).

Bhandari's writings have appeared in 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.[6] and the Encyclopedia of Sustainability [7] He is a co-author of the "State of Panchayats Report: An Independent Assessment, 2007-08," which was commissioned by the Government of India and was India’s first macro-study of rural institutions of local self-governance in India (called Gram Panchayat). The study allowed him to explore his particular interest in the study of civil society and community organizations in India.

In 2014, Bhandari wrote a children's book called Eyewitness Gandhi, published by Penguin Random House.

Bhandari became part-time Chairman of the Jio Payments Bank Limited (JPBL), a joint-venture of the State Bank of India and Reliance Jio in June 2017.


A year into his term as director of IRMA in 2008, Bhandari was included in Business Today magazine's list of India's Top Twenty-Five 'Young Executives Under the Age of 40'. [8]