Member of Parliament Ph. D., Wharton Business School Professor, IIM Bangalore Mentor and Youth Leader Quintessential Bangalorean Quizzer Extraordinaire


"I was fortunate to grow up in a family of freedom fighters. The stories my uncle and father told me filled me with patriotism and inspired me to dedicate my life to India. To be better equipped, I studied at the best universities in the world and gained excellent professional experience in the US. I then chose to return to India and have immersed myself in public service"


Prof. Gowda was born on October 29, 1963 at Vani Vilas Hospital in Bangalore. He is the son of late Shri M.V. Venkatappaand Smt. Subhadra Venkatappa. His late father was the Speaker of Legislative Assembly and Chairman of the Legislative Council of Karnataka. M.V. Venkatappa was elected twice from the Mulbagal assembly constituency and was nominated to the legislative council twice. He had also worked as a Member of Land Reforms Committee during the tenure of late Deva raju Prof. Gowda’s mother has been President of the Karnataka Mahila Sabha and has worked in the field of rural development, women empowerment and family planning.

Late M.V. Krishnappa, Prof.Gowda’s paternal uncle, was part of the 1942 Quit India movement and was also the founder of the Bangalore Dairy. He was a minister in Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's cabinet and was elected to the Lok Sabha six times.

Prof. Gowda is married to Sharmila Bhaktaram and they have two children.


Prof. Gowda did his schooling from Cluny Convent School and St. Joseph’s Boys High School. He studied Economics and Political science at St. Joseph’s College, Bangalore, where he was elected Vice-president of the student union during 1982-83. He was awarded the Bangalore University gold medal in Political Science and secured a fully funded scholarship to pursue Masters in Economics at Fordham University, New York, USA.

After completing his post-graduation studies, Prof. Gowda moved to the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA, to complete his Ph.D in Public Policy & Management where he was awarded the University Fellowship.

After completing his Ph.D, he went on to do post-doctoral research at the University of California, Berkeley where he was awarded the John M. Olin Post-doctoral Fellow in Law and Economics in 1991. He was also a visiting scholar at the Centre for Jurisprudence and Social Policy- Law School (Boalt Hall), University of California. Read more..

In 1992, he joined the University of Oklahoma as Assistant Professor of Political Science. He held positions of Associate Professor of Political Science and Research Fellow in Science and Public Policy at the University of Oklahoma. He was also the Coordinator, Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment Program at the University in 1999. He attained tenure as a Professor at the University of Oklahoma but moved back to India in 2000.

Soon after returning to India and settling down in his hometown Bangalore, he joined the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB) where he taught Economics and Social Sciences. He was instrumental in setting up the Centre for Public Policy at IIMB and was Chairperson of the same. At IIMB, Prof Gowda has also taught bureaucrats and legislators from across the country. He designed and led the India-Women in Leadership(i-WIL) programme to train women politicians.

Prof Gowda has served as the Director on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India and has been a Carnegie Council Global Ethics Fellow. He also held the positions of Director, General Insurance Corporation of India and was Member of the executive council at the Rajiv Gandhi National Institute of Youth Development.He is a columnist for leading publications and writes on topics like governance, political process and analysis, economic growth, education system and electoral reforms.

Among the books that he has published are Editor, Judgements, Decisions and Public Policy, Cambridge University Press, 2002; Co-Editor (i) Integrating Insurance and Risk Management for Hazardous Wastes, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1990 and (ii) India's Risks, Oxford University Press, India, 2014.

An avid quizzer,Prof Gowda co-founded the Karnataka Quiz Association in 1983, and was the national runner up on BBC TV’s Mastermind India in 2001.

Political Contribution

Prof. Gowda has been active in politics since his return to India in 2000. He was invited by Smt. Sonia Gandhi to participate in the Vichar Manthan Shivir in 2003. Thereafter, in 2004, he was included in a team of 24 young leaders who worked with Shri Rahul Gandhi when he entered politics. He was chosen to launch the Congress party’s youth- focussed campaign in Guwahati in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections. Since then, he has provided inputs for training the Youth Congress and NSUI. He was also Convenor of the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee's (KPCC) Vichar Vibhag. He was a part of the manifesto committee for the assembly and BBMP elections.

In 2009, Prof. Gowda co-founded Hamara which promoted the Congress party’s campaign online. On behalf of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), he conducted a youth-focussed event in Mysore as part of the Congress 125th anniversary celebrations. He actively participated in the 320 km long Congress 'Bellary Chalo, Bellary Bacchao and BJP Hatao’ padayatra against illegal mining in Karnataka. Read more..

In 2013, Prof Gowda was appointed AICC National Spokesperson. Prof Gowda was one of the contenders for the Bangalore North constituency in the Congress’ Primaries for the 2014 general elections. The Primaries, an experiment conducted in 15 LokSabha seats across the country, was an internal election process adopted by the Indian National Congress.Prof Gowda secured the third highest votes in the Bangalore North Primaries.

In June 2014, Prof. Gowda was nominated to the Rajya Sabha by the Congress from Karnataka. He took oath on 7 July 2014.

He gave his maiden speech on the discussion pertaining to the working of the Ministry of Power on 6 August 2014. He spoke about the need to focus on problems faced on the demand side, decentralized off-grid solutions towards energy self-sufficiency in rural India, creating a nation of solar-roof top producers and incentivising through policy, the need to focus on smart grids, adapting traditional architecture to 21st century buildings to promote energy efficiency and better building codes, investing in 'waste-to-energy' plants in cities and adopting long term strategies to invest in greener technologies like 'clean coal', while conserving rich bio-diverse ecosystems, and respecting the rights of tribal citizens towards a future of Low Carbon Inclusive Growth.

On 12 August 2014, Prof Gowda spoke during the discussion on the Securities Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2014.He urged the government to expand the special judicial apparatus to deal with financial white-collar crime, highlighted concern over India’s investor population dwindling from 20 million to just 10 million in 25 years, raised the issue on accountability of SEBI to the Parliament and concluded by calling for SEBI to actively pay attention to financial inclusion.


Bengaluru Needs You

Prof Gowda leads ‘Bengaluru Needs You’ (BNY), a citizen movement to involve and empower people to engage with civic authorities to bring positive transformation in the city. BNY also conducts action-oriented internships to give students and professionals an opportunity to experience the practical realities of civic engagement and political activism.

Namma Railu

Prof Gowda is a proponent of ‘Namma Railu’ - a suburban rail service intended to provide frequent and improved connectivity to regions around Bengaluru. Along with civil society partners, he submitted petitions to the Union Minister for Railways, Shri. Sadanada Gowda and to former Railway Minister Shri Mallikarjun Kharge during his tenure. Read more..

Swalpa Cleanup Maadi

‘Swalpa Clean-up Maadi’ is an open platform for everyone to come together and help get rid of the ‘black-spots’ in Bengaluru.‘Black-spots’ refer to existing or festering garbage dumps that pose serious health hazards. It aims to bring lasting, effective change by engaging and partnering with existing authorities. With the help of young volunteers, residents, and the ward corporators, the garbage-filled stretch of roads and dumps get transformed into usable, aesthetic community spaces.

Women’s Safety Campaigns

Prof. Gowda led Bengaluru Needs You launched a ‘Women’s Safety Campaign’ by introducing the Safeti Pin app in Bangalore. The app helps citizens conduct location-based safety audits through their smart phone. The data collated through the app helps users analyse the safety issues in neighbourhoods and around workplaces. The mobile app also allows users to upload information on harassment and public hazards along with sharing information about police stations and hospitals. The data generated by this campaign is then collated and shared with elected representatives enabling them to take immediate measurable action. Earlier in 2009, when the Ram Sena attacked women in Mangalore and threatened the citizens of Bangalore, Prof. Gowda organized 25 simultaneous protest rallies across the city against moral policing. He was given the title of ‘Super Citizen’ by DNA newspaper for leading these protests and mobilizing the middle-class, college students and IT professionals against communal forces.

Mentor Together

Prof. Gowda is a Founder Trustee of Mentor Together, an organization which aims to connect children from disadvantaged backgrounds to professionals who will serve as their mentors based on shared academic, career and personal interests.