Modi’s senior economic aide resigns to resume teaching No easy ride
New Delhi, India - Arvind Panagariya, vice chairman of the government’s key policy planning body and a senior economic advisor to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has resigned - a development that could hurt the government’s plan to boost growth in Asia’s third-largest economy.
A Columbia University professor, Panagariya (64) was the first vice chief of the policy body known as NITI Aayog. He was appointed after Modi dismantled the Planning Commission that used to set five-year growth roadmaps. He will resume teaching duties by September.
“I have asked the Prime Minister to relieve me,” Panagariya told reporters in New Delhi.
Panagariya was spearheading efforts to reduce government’s role in various businesses. He was an early proponent of privatising the debt-laden Air India which has been put on the block by the Modi administration as well as guiding strategic sales - selling at least 26 per cent stake - of state firms. It was no smooth sailing though. Panagariya had run into opposition from rightwing labour unions, part of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. They accused him of implementing anti-labour policies and asked Modi to totally reorganise the NITI Aayog.
“It was evident that there was nothing bigger for Panagariya in the Indian government - no ministership - that would be worth giving up his tenure as professor, which he would have lost had he stayed on for more than two years,” said Mohan Guruswamy, chairman of New Delhi-based Centre For Policy Alternatives.
Arvind Panagariya (right) was the first vice chief of the NITI Aayog