Thursday, September 7, 2017

Q&A : How and why do top intellectuals go back to teaching jobs?

An interesting question came to me from an online forum: How and why is teaching in US universities so fulfilling that top intellectuals like RBI governor Raghuram Rajan and Niti Aayog vice chairman Arvind Pangariya went back to join teaching?

My response follows

 Fascinating question but one doesn’t have to think too hard about How and Why.
The names you quote Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Pangariya et al. are globalized intellectuals with impeccable credentials, stellar education backed by real world experience. Arvind Panagariya happens to be Princeton educated Indian American. He was previously Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank. “In the past, he has been a professor of economics at the University of Maryland at College Park. He has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). He holds a Ph.D in economics from Princeton University.” Same goes for Mr. Rajan with his excellent credentials - IIT Delhi, IIM Ahmedabad, MIT Sloan School of Management (PhD)!
Having a global background like these also means they are unencumbered by trivialities like visas and immigration restriction that may apply to rest of the junta.

How do they do it (i.e make a switch)?
  • These are the guys whose phone calls will be picked up by any ivy league university Dean or multinational CEO.
  • These are the guys who are continually tracked by elite executive headhunters.

Why do they do it (i.e make a switch)? Now, this is a subjective part of the question. If you had the credentials like Raghuram or Arvind and the ability to write your own agenda, and chalk a path after every milestone, wouldn’t you do it?
Some of these people like Raghuram and Arvind have excellent academic credentials. Academics in in the US, especially in top schools/universities are well respected, and depending on seniority and tenure, the pay and perks are great too. In addition, professors get to focus on research and consulting outside the university too!