What Do CJI, RBI Guv, CAG, CBI Chief Have in Common? St Stephens
CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant (L), Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi (M) and RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das (R) are graduates of St Stephen’s College.
CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant (L), Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi (M) and RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das (R) are graduates of St Stephen’s College.Photo: Altered by The Quint

What Do CJI, RBI Guv, CAG, CBI Chief Have in Common? St Stephens

What do the current chief justice of India, RBI governor, cabinet secretary, finance secretary, CBI director, comptroller and auditor general, NITI Aayog CEO all have in common? St Stephen’s College.

St Stephen’s College, the oldest college in Delhi (established in 1881), has a long list of alumni currently in office:

  • Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi graduated with a degree in History from St Stephen’s College.
  • RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das, who took over after the sudden resignation of Urjit Patel earlier this week, has a degree in History. He is a 1980 batch IAS officer.
  • Ajay Narayan Jha, the finance secretary since December 2018, has a BA in History from St Stephen’s. He is part of the 1982 IAS batch.
  • CBI Director Alok Kumar Verma has a post-graduate degree in History from the college. He belongs to the 1979 IPS batch.
  • Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi studied History there. He was appointed the Vice-Chair of the United Nations Panel of Auditors on Tuesday, 11 December. Mehrishi is from the 1978 IAS batch.
  • Cabinet Secretary Pradeep Sinha graduated in Economics. He is a 1977 IAS Officer.
  • CEO of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant graduated with a degree in Economics from Stephen’s. He is part of the 1980 Kerala IAS batch.
  • Vice-Chairperson of NITI Aayog Rajiv Kumar studied Economics there.
  • Anshu Prakash, who was until November 2018 the chief secretary of Delhi, is an alumnus too. He has a BA in Economics from the college.

And it is not just among these top officers that St Stephen’s is a common theme. Shashi Tharoor – another graduate of St Stephen’s – documented the disproportionate representation of graduates from the college among India’s elite political figures in this 2014 essay for The Hindu.

When Tharoor was a student, however, Stephanians were not expected to join politics. In his time, notes Tharoor, graduates of St Stephen’s were expected to go “into the IAS and IFS, not to enter politics.”

Sashi Tharoor has a BA in history from St Stephen’s College.
Sashi Tharoor has a BA in history from St Stephen’s College.
(Photo: Arnica Kala/The Quint)

“They conquered babudom in large numbers every year, rising to the highest ranks of the civil service but believing profoundly that politics was not for them,” adds Tharoor.

But that changed as more and more Stephanians became successful politicians, and for Tharoor personally, the turning point was a speech by the then Additional Secretary to the Government of India, Kanwar Natwar Singh. Singh bluntly advised Tharoor’s class of students not to join the civil service, where one’s fate was to merely take orders from politicians. (Natwar Singh, also a Stephanian, went on to follow his own advice, quitting his civil service post and entering politics instead, notes Tharoor.)

The list of Stephanians in politics ranges from high-ranking politicians such as Rahul Gandhi to Rajasthan’s newly appointed Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot.

File photo of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and party leader Sachin Pilot. 
File photo of Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and party leader Sachin Pilot. 
(Photo: PTI)

Congress President Rahul Gandhi pursued History Honours at St Stephen’s college, which he did not finish, before leaving for Harvard University.

Sachin Pilot, who was on Friday, 14 December named the Deputy Chief Minister of Rajasthan, has a BA in English Honours from the institution.

Khushwant Singh, Sitaram Yechury, Arun Shourie, Naveen Patnaik, Rahul Bajaj, even Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (former President of Pakistan) are all St Stephen’s alumni as well.

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