NEW YORK (PTI) — A prestigious international affairs school at Columbia University will establish a first of its kind center on Indian economic policies in the name of an influential Indian American couple following an undisclosed generous gift from them.

The School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University will inaugurate the Deepak and Neera Raj Center on Indian Economic Policies. Deepak Raj is the managing director of the private investment firms Rush Brook Partners and Raj Associates, and said he and his wife are delighted to be part of the “important initiative” at the university.

“The Indian economy is at a critical juncture, and we hope that the center's highly capable leadership will provide research and expertise to help India grow,” the certified financial analyst said.

The school declined to share information on the amount of donation made by the couple for the center, whose inaugural director will be eminent economist and academician Prof. Jagdish Bhagwati.

Pravin Krishna, a professor of international economics and business at Johns Hopkins University, will serve as deputy director.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is scheduled to make keynote remarks when the center celebrates its launch Oct. 5 at an event that will convene elected officials, policymakers, academics and private-sector leaders on the Columbia campus, the school said in a statement.

Prior to the establishment of the center, research on the Indian economy at the New York-based university was undertaken by the Program on Indian Economic Policies, funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

Under the leadership of Bhagwati, the center will provide research and expertise necessary to inform policy decisions; deliver increased prosperity; and define India's future role in the global economy. It will also make a comparative study of the experience of India and the U.S. in policy-relevant areas such as climate change and federalism, providing scholarly support for bilateral and multilateral initiatives.

The university said the center, a first of its kind in the U.S., will pursue this work through research projects, high-visibility programs, publications and events.

“We are deeply grateful to Deepak and Neera Raj for their generous support of SIPA's efforts in this vitally important field of inquiry,” said SIPA dean Merit E. Janow.

Bhagwati said the transformation and growth of India's economy remains “as compelling and important a subject today as it has been for many decades.”

“As a new government pursues landmark reforms, this is an especially auspicious time to be launching a center devoted to the challenging policy questions that will shape the world's largest democracy and strive to provide better living standards for untold millions,” he said.

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