Mint Explainer: Who is Vivek Ramaswamy, the man disrupting the 2024 US prez race

U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. (File Photo: Reuters)
U.S. presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. (File Photo: Reuters)


  • Ramaswamy has outperformed several of his traditional Republican competitors in the quest for the party's nomination

Vivek Ramaswamy, a 38-year-old Indian-American entrepreneur, has shaken up the U.S. presidential race for 2024. Known for his pointed critiques on subjects ranging from "woke" culture to ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards, Ramaswamy has outperformed several of his traditional Republican competitors in the quest for the party's nomination. Mint takes a look.

Who is Vivek Ramaswamy?

Born to immigrant parents from Kerala, Ramaswamy graduated from Harvard and Yale before making a fortune in the pharmaceutical industry. His net worth is estimated at just under $1 billion. In recent years, Ramaswamy has become increasingly active in America’s culture wars. He has opposed the “woke culture" and has criticized liberal positions on climate change, race relations, abortion and affirmative action. In 2023, he announced that he would seek the Republican Party’s nomination for US presidency.

What does he believe in?

Ramaswamy has said that he would rule by fiat through substantial use of executive power if he is elected president. He has called for radical downsizing of the US government, including the abolition of the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service. On social policy, he has opposed traditional liberal positions and has publicly said that the US was founded on “Judeo-Christian" values. On foreign policy, Ramaswamy has criticized US support for Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia. He has also called for closer ties with India. However, he also said that he wanted India to play a role in closing the Malacca strait against China in the event of a conflict.

Does he have a chance of winning?

Ramaswamy has certainly gathered steam in recent weeks. A strong performance in the first candidates debate last week boosted his political stock. According to political website Five Thirty Eight, Ramaswamy ranks third in opinion polls for the nomination, behind former president Donald Trump and Florida governor Ron De Santis. However, some have questioned whether Ramaswamy, who is a Hindu, can win support from Christian evangelical voters, who form a core part of the Republican party’s base.

Is he a controversial figure?

Indeed. Besides his controversial political positions, critics have questioned how Ramaswamy acquired such a vast fortune by tracking the dealings of his pharmaceutical company Roivant. Axovant, a subsidiary of his company, backed a drug, inteperdine, which was to be used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Ramaswamy talked up the drug’s potential despite the fact that it had failed four trials. Regardless, Ramaswamy took Axovant public and its valuation soared. He then sold his shares to an outside investor for millions. However, inteperdine failed a fifth trial in 2017, which led Axovant’s value to crater. His investors suffered serious losses but Ramaswamy was insulated.

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