Panagariya Quits Niti to Resume Columbia Tenure
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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