A short (auto) biography

Nitin Pai

Where I overstate my case, exaggerate my achievements and ignore all the embarassing failures

I talk about Takshashila in this interview by OnThinkTanks

I am the co-founder and director of the Takshashila Institution, an independent think tank and school of public policy based in Bangalore. We started this institution to champion India’s national interest and constitutional values. Personally, I believe individual liberty, free markets and reason offer the best prescription for a just society and a sustainable planet.

At Takshashila, I do what I love. I get to dabble in everything from high tech geopolitics, synthetic biology, space, defence economics, maritime strategy and ethical reasoning. The best thing though is to hang around in the company of smart people who have expertise in many different areas. But mostly my job is to ensure that the refreshments we serve — especially the coffee — is as outstanding as our Research & teaching. Our Church Street office, located in a building that once housed an iconic bookstore, is called LSpace, and is full of books.


My wife and I have three kids and you might find my Debates with my Daughters interesting to read. My dog does not debate.

Earlier incarnation

Before moving back to India in 2012, I worked many years in the area of technology policy for the Singapore government. I played a small role in the deregulation of the telecommunications industry and deployment of broadband infrastructure. Between two innings in government, I spent a couple of years in SingTel’s international connectivity business, handling satellite and undersea cable sales for the Middle East, India and South East Asia. It was an exciting period: we built a submarine cable connecting Singapore to Chennai that dramatically altered the internet landscape in India.

University tales

After pre-university at National College (Jayangar), Bangalore. I studied electrical engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) as an Singapore Airlines-Neptune Orient Lines undergraduate scholar. I didn’t let that affect my education and most of that period was spent in the computer room mucking around with the university’s computer network, and the early internet. The first browser I used was Lynx. At NTU, I was member of the Merlion Project team that eventually put Singapore’s first microsatellite into space. Later I got an Master’s in Public Administration and a gold medal from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (NUS).


I am currently a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore; and serve on board of Jal Seva Foundation (WaterAid India). I served on the Government of Karnataka’s Vision Group on Higher Education (2019-2022). This paragraph constitutes full disclosure of my conflict of interests.

The brief history of my online presence

I first accessed the internet in July 1993, using a VT-100 terminal connected to a DEC VAX 9000 mainframe running VMS. On the campus network I created what would now be called a social media platform called IGSoft. Indrajaal my first web page was up in 1994 or 1995.

BlogAdda interviewed me about my early days of blogging

I started blogging in 2002 about food. My public policy blog The Acorn has been around since 2003, although I slacked off by 2016. That was because of Twitter which is the shortest path to ground. But hey, now we are back here, so all is well.

About this site

This site runs on Blot and David Merfield is a great guy. I mostly use Obsidian to manage its contents. It uses Google Fonts designed by Colophon Foundry, Jonny Pinhorn, Indian Type Foundry, Omnibus-Type and Christian Robertson. Thanks to Lluisa Iborra from the Noun Project for the Torii gate image that I am using for the logo.

If you’ve bothered to read up to this point, I am both impressed and worried. Why would anyone want to do such a thing?

If you would like to share or comment on this, please discuss it on my GitHub

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