Dissenting Notes out of Scope?
The resignation of Arvind Panagariya, the IndianAmerican economist handpicked by Narendra Modi to lead the NITI Aayog, was badly timed. The government seemed to be in the thick of staging an economic turnaround when the soft-spoken Panagariya said he was quitting to get back to the academia.
Yet the departure of Panagariya, who took leave from Columbia University to join the government in January 2015, is not altogether surprising. The NITI Aayog, which replaced the Planning Commission, seen by many as a relic of the Nehruvian era, quickly earned for itself the reputation of being a mouthpiece of the government rather than acting as a guiding light in policymaking. A source in the PMO said Panagariya was a conspicuous absentee at cabinet meetings though he held a cabinet rank. A telling detail, some might say.
Panagariya’s name had also come up as a possible successor to Raghuram Rajan at the Reserve Bank of India, but that too did not materialise. Unlike his media-savvy colleague, Amitabh Kant, who is the NITI Aayog CEO, Panagariya preferred to stay away from the limelight. He is said to have written to Modi on the hardships the demonetisation exercise inflicted on the public, and wanted no scrutiny of those who’d deposited up to Rs 2.5 lakh. He was also reportedly unhappy with the pace of reforms in the first two years of the Modi government.
TIME OUT? Arvind Panagariya