Panagariya Quits Niti to Re­sume Columbia Ten­ure

The Economic Times - - Economy: Macro, Micro & More - Our Bu­reau

New Delhi: Arvind Panagariya has re­signed as vice chair­man of Niti Aayog and will go back to teach at Columbia Univer­sity, two-and-ahalf years af­ter he joined the body set up by the NDA gov­ern­ment to re­place the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion.

Panagariya said he had ex­pressed his de­sire to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to be re­lieved by Au­gust 31.

“I had writ­ten a let­ter to Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi ask­ing him that I be re­lieved by Au­gust 31,” Panagariya told the me­dia on Tues­day, The prime min­is­ter has agreed to his re­quest.

Sources told ET that the gov­ern­ment has al­ready de­cided Panagariya’s suc­ces­sor and would an­nounce it in a day or two, adding that the de­vel­op­ment had been in the works for a few months.

A cab­i­net min­is­ter, a Niti Aayog mem­ber and a fi­nance min­istry func­tionary are said to be in the reck­on­ing, but this could not be ver­i­fied. How­ever, an­other of­fi­cial ET spoke to said there has been no de­ci­sion on his suc­ces­sor.

Sources told ET that Panagariya had in his let­ter said that he had sought more time from Columbia but the univer­sity de­clined. The gov­ern­ment was keen that Panagariya con­tinue, but it even­tu­ally be­came a per­sonal and fam­ily de­ci­sion.

“If I were at 40, then I would have got a job any­where... the kind of job I have at Columbia is al­most im­pos­si­ble to get at this age,” Panagariya said. At US uni­ver­si­ties, one can teach as long as one's health per­mits, he added. “There was no fur­ther scope of ex­tend­ing the pub­lic ser­vice leave I was en­ti­tled to from the univer­sity. Hence, the only op­tion was to leave this job and go back as I also wanted to be with my fam­ily.” Even Mrs Panagariya was keen to re­turn, said one per­son privy to de­vel­op­ment.

He said dur­ing his ten­ure at Niti Aayog, a new in­sti­tu­tion has taken root and it would con­tinue to steer the econ­omy to achieve higher growth tra­jec­tory.

“I have al­ways shared good re­la­tions with the Re­serve Bank, fi­nance min­istry and Prime Min­is­ter's Of­fice,” he said.

Panagariya said he wanted to com­plete a seven-year strat­egy pa­per and a 15-year vi­sion doc­u­ment, but that would now have to be done by his suc­ces­sor. These were 80-85% ready, he said.

Panagariya said he would be writ­ing a se­quel to his book, 'In­dia: The Emerg­ing Gi­ant', which was pub­lished in 2008.

Panagariya’s exit comes al­most a year af­ter Raghu­ram Ra­jan de­cided to go back to aca­demics at the end of his term as gov­er­nor of the Re­serve Bank of In­dia.

While Ra­jan's re­la­tion­ship with the gov­ern­ment was said to be rocky, Panagariya said there was no con­flict be­tween him and the ad­min­is­tra­tion. “I would have been more than happy to con­tinue if I had got an ex­ten­sion. It’s a work close to my heart and an op­por­tu­nity I would not have dreamt of,” he said, adding that PM Modi was coura­geous enough to rope in a pro­fes­sor from out­side for such a po­si­tion.

A Niti Aayog of­fi­cial that ET spoke to said that Panagariya’s exit comes at a time when lot of re­forms had started hap­pen­ing in the coun­try.

The govt was keen that Panagariya con­tinue, but it even­tu­ally be­came a per­sonal and fam­ily de­ci­sion

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