Prem Das Rai, one of the most distinguished alumni of IIT Kanpur, is an Indian politician from the Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) party. He has been associated with the party since its formative years and has helped shaping the party's manifesto and the vision. He has held all the key posts in the party including being the party's General Secretary. In 2009, he earned the distinction of being the first and only member of Parliament with degrees from both an IIT as well as an IIM after being elected to the Lok Sabha from the Sikkim constituency. Mr. Rai continues to work towards the betterment of the Sikkimese people. "The more you talk of technology, the more you talk of better processes. I firmly believe that there should be many more people in public life from such institutions."
Though Mr. Rai never thought of Politics as a career option not even on a distant horizon, he ended up being a politician who contributed immensely to the state of Sikkim. It was while working in the Bank of America at Kolkata that he met B.B. Lal, the then Governor of Sikkim, who mentored him and convinced him to work for the State. In 1979, he was appointed as a Project Manager in the Sikkim Flour Mills that was in the process of being set up. Later, he worked for the Sikkim government for 6 years in different capacities including the Managing Director of Sikkim Milk Union; Chairman of Sikkim Industrial Development and Investment Corporation (SIDICO) and Sikkim Scheduled Tribes and All Other Backward Classes Financial Development Corporation (SABCO); founding Chairman of the Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim (ECOSS); and CEO (Northeast) of BASIX.
At BASIX, one of India's largest microfinance and livelihood promotion institutions, Mr. Rai worked closely with farmers, villagers, and non-governmental organizations and implemented several microfinance initiatives in Sikkim and other north-east states. However, owing to increasing family expenses and inability to meet the demands, Mr. Rai had to move to the USA, where he couldn't stay long. He soon returned to Sikkim to join active Politics.
Being a technology and a management expert, Mr. Rai is credited for introducing IT and Sustainable Eco-tourism to Sikkim. Through social networking, he has felicitated exchange programs and promoted diversity. He has played a crucial role in strengthening the network of NGOs and creating an environment for proactive Sikkimese civil society. In 2002, he was awarded the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship (USA) for making tremendous contributions to Sikkim's economic and industrial growth.
In 2009, Mr. Prem Das Rai was elected to the Lok Sabha from Sikkim constituency and became the first Member of Parliament to have an IIT as well as an IIM degree. He took to his duties with a clear and a sharp focus. "Improved technology leads to improved processes. It is in this that managerial capabilities of people like us can come in handy to ensure accountability through efficient implementation."
Having grown up amidst political discussions at home with his father being an active politician, Mr. Rai believes that Politics is a continuous learning process. Politics may not be ideal for a business oriented mind, but nothing is ideal in this world. For the same reasons, he accepts interns under him so that they can see what makes a politician tick.