Home » About Us » Governing Body

Over nearly six decades, NCAER’s member-elected Governing Body has included almost every prominent Indian economist and industrialist, including former Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh as a member during 1976-82, and Ratan Tata as President during 1994-98. NCAER’s current Governing Body is headed by Mr. Nandan M Nilekani, ex- Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India and former CEO of Infosys Ltd.  Since May 2011, NCAER has been led by its ninth Director-General, Dr Shekhar Shah, who joined NCAER from the World Bank where he was the Regional Economic Adviser for South Asia. 
Nandan M Nilekani

Nandan M. Nilekani co-founded Infosys, was its CEO during 2002-07, Board co-Chairman during 2007-09, and returned to Infosys in August 2017 as its Non-Executive Chairman. As the first Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India during 2009-2014, Nilekani successfully created and implemented Aadhar, the world’s largest biometric identification system. He is the Co-founder and Chairman of EkStep, a nonprofit initiative that is creating a learner-centric, technology-based platform to improve basic literacy and numeracy for millions of children.  Nilekani is the recipient of a number of national and international awards. Fortune Magazine conferred on him “Asia’s Businessman of the year 2003” award. He received the prestigious Joseph A Schumpeter Prize in 2005 for Innovative Services in Economy, Economic Sciences and Politics. In 2006, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the President of India. He was also named the 2006 Businessman of the Year by Forbes Asia. Time magazine listed him as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2006 and 2009. Foreign Policy listed Nilekani as one of the Top 100 Global thinkers in 2010.  He won The Economist magazine’s Social & Economic Innovation Award 2014 for his leadership of Aadhaar.  In 2017, CNBC-TV 18 conferred on him their India Business Leader award for outstanding contributions to the Indian economy, and he received the 22nd Nikkei Asia Prize for Economic & Business Innovation.  Nilekani is the author of “Imagining India” and  the co- author with Viral Shah of his second book, “Rebooting India: Realizing a Billion Aspirations”.

Rajendra S Pawar

Rajendra S Pawar is Chairman and Co-Founder of the NIIT Group, which encompasses: NIIT, a leading global talent development corporation, and NIIT Technologies, a software and services organization. He is currently developing an innovative higher education model at the not-for-profit NIIT University in Neemrana, Rajasthan.  Mr. Pawar has led several ICT industry bodies, including NASSCOM as its Chairman in 2011-12. He is a member of the Prime Minister’s National Council on Skill Development and served on the Prime Minister’s National Task Force in 1998 and was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2011. Mr. Pawar studied at Scindia School in Gwalior and graduated with a B. Tech. in Electronics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi. 

Mukesh D Ambani

Mukesh Ambani is Managing Director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries, India’s second largest company by market capitalization. After joining Reliance Industries in 1981, he led the company’s backward integration drive from textiles to polyesters and eventually into petrochemicals and petroleum refining.  He is also  Chairman of Infotel Broadband Services Private and Chairman of the Board of Governors at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Mr Ambani holds a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Mumbai and an MBA from Stanford University.

Tarun Bajaj

Tarun Bajaj is the Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

Surjit S Bhalla

Dr Surjit S. Bhalla is the Chairman of Ox[us] Investments, a New-Delhi based hedge fund and emerging markets advisory firm and a Senior Adviser to Blufin, a leading financial information company. He has served on several committees of the Government of India, including the RBI Capital Account Convertibility Committees of 1997 and 2006, the SEBI Advisory Committee On Secondary Markets, and on India’s first National Statistical Commission during 2007-2009.  He is a regular contributor to Indian printed and electronic media on financial markets, economics, politics and cricket. He obtained a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, his M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, and a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton.

Ashish Dhawan

Ashish Dhawan is is the Founder and CEO of Central Square Foundation where he hopes to bring a fresh impact-based approach to philanthropy in India.  Before this, he worked for twenty years in the investment management business and ran one of India's leading private equity funds, ChrysCapital. Mr Dhawan serves on the board of several non-profits including Akanksha Foundation, 3.2.1 Education Foundation, Teach For India, Centre for Civil Society, Janaagraha and GiveLife. He was recently recognized as the NextGen Leader in Philanthropy by Forbes India. Mr Dhawan received an MBA degree from Harvard Business School and a BS degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics from Yale University.

Deepak S Parekh

Deepak S Parekh is the Chairman  of Housing Development Finance Corporation, India’s leading housing finance company in India which he joined in 1978. He is also the non-executive Chairman of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ltd and director of several public companies such as Siemens, Exide Industries,  Castrol India, and Infrastructure Development Finance Company.  He has also been associated with various government committees including the Committee on Reforms in the Insurance Sector, Committee on Banking Sector Reforms, Investment Commission Committee and the Prime Minister’s Task Force on Infrastructure.   Mr. Parekh received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the Bombay University and holds a Chartered Accountant degree from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

Shekhar Shah
Director General

Shekhar Shah is the Director General of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER).


As the CEO of India’s oldest and largest independent economic think tank, he manages NCAER’s wide-ranging research activities across all sectors of the economy, including its extensive data collection, innovation, and curation activities. Prior to joining NCAER Shah was the World Bank’s Regional Economic Adviser for South Asia and, earlier, Sector Manager in the Bank’s research complex and a principal author of the 2004 World Development Report, Making Services Work for Poor People. During a World Bank career spanning more than two decades, Shah also served as the Bank’s Deputy Research Administrator, Sector Manager for Public Sector Management for Europe and Central Asia, and Lead Economist for Bangladesh. Before joining the Bank he was the Ford Foundation’s Program Officer for Economics and International Relations for South Asia. He worked earlier in Washington DC consulting for the US Federal Reserve Board, FDIC, the OCC, and US banks and bank holding companies.


Shah received his BA in Economics from St Stephens College, Delhi University, and his MA and PhD in Economics from Columbia University.