Dis­sent­ing Notes out of Scope?

India Today - - UPFRONT - —M.G. Arun

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

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