Arvind Panagariya resigns, defends record of Niti Aayog

Will retired bureaucrat Amitabh Kant or Baba Ramdev replace Arvind Panagariya as the vice-chairman? Twitter has a field day speculating

 Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images
Photo by Ramesh Pathania/Mint via Getty Images

NH Web Desk

Within hours of the news that vice-chairman of Niti Aayog Arvind Panagriya is going back to his tenure as Professor of Economics in Columbia University in the US, there was speculation over his successor. Could it be the CEO, retired bureaucrat Amitabh Kant, believed to be a blue-eyed boy of the Prime Minister, or would it be Baba Ramdev who has shown a marked flair for enterprise?

Twitter was also abuzz with speculation whether the days of Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian in the Government are also numbered. Subramanian is among several US-based academics to have joined the Modi Government along with Panagariya. Raghuram Rajan, the former RBI Governor, had also gone back to Chicago University saying that the University was not extending his leave. Panagariya too has now cited similar reasons. A selection of the tweets made in reaction to Panagariya’s resignation appears at the bottom.

Panagariya—who joined as the first vice-chairman of the Niti Aayog in January 2015, resigned as vice chairman of the Niti Aayog on Tuesday, saying he would like to return to academics in the Columbia University.

The 64-year-old economist who is a professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University, did not have a fixed term at the government think tank that replaced Planning Commission. He has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to relieve him of his duties by August 31.

He has also worked for the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, and the UN Conference on Trade and Development in the past.

“If I were at 40, then I would have got job anywhere... the kind of job I have at Columbia is almost impossible to get at this age," he told the media. Panagariya said he had to make a choice as it would not be possible for him to get the job he had been doing at Columbia University. At US universities one can teach as long as one's health permits.

Defending the record of Niti Aayog he said, the Niti Aayog had successfully pushed privatisation, especially of sick units and Air India, prepared the ground for reforms in several sectors including medical and higher education, and developed a good working relationship with states.

Going by convention followed by the erstwhile Planning Commission which was replaced by Niti Aayog, the term was to be co-terminus with that of the Prime Minister, who is the Chairperson of the body.

Here’s a collection of twitter reaction to the resignation of the high-profile academic-economist who is second after Raghuram Rajan, who resigned as governor of Reserve Bank of India after a three year term to rejoin the Chicago University:

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Published: 01 Aug 2017, 8:35 PM