Arvind Panagriya, who was handpicked by Modi to head NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog immediately after its creation on 1st January 2015, has resigned as vice-chairman of NITI Aayog, bringing an end to his two-and-a-half year stint at the helm of India’s revamped planning commission.
NITI Aayog,was created at the beginning of 2015 to replace the 65-year-old Planning Commission, which was a brain child of India’s first P.M. Jawaharlal Nehru and his cabinet. Many in the present govt. think it was a vestige of the Socialist era.
As Panagariya puts it, he is returning to his ‘first love’ which is teaching.
He is tipped to return to Columbia University.
NITI Aayog was meant to be in sync with “changing times and requirements of a rising India”.
Like the erstwhile Planning Commission, NITI Aayog is also chaired by the Prime Minister of India. Sources said it was a difficult decision for Panagariya, to quit NITI. He met the prime minister recently and explained to him why he wanted to leave the NITI Aayog.
Sources confirmed he will be continue to be at NITI Aayog till the end of this month and relinquish from the post on 31 August.
Rumours in power corridors suggest CEO Amitabh Kant had an overbearing presence. Panagariya and Kant are two prominent persons in two powerful positions at the same organisation, which may have had its implications.
NITI Aayog was formed as a premier ‘think tank’ meant to formulate policies for the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. “While designing strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and states. The Government of India, in keeping with its reform agenda, constituted NITI Aayog to replace the Planning Commission. This was done in order to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people of India. An important evolutionary change from the past, NITI Aayog acts as the quintessential platform of the Government of India to bring states to act together in national interest, and thereby fosters cooperative federalism,” the Aayog website says.
Panagariya, 64, is an Indian-American economist and has been a professor of Economics at Columbia University. He is known for his market-friendly views and is a close associate of well-known trade economist Jagdish Bhagwati. The two have often challenged Nobel laureate Amartya Sen to an open debate on Indian economy.
Panagariya has earlier been the chief economist of the Asian Development Bank and a professor of Economics and co-director at the Centre for International Economics, University of Maryland, at College Park.
Holding a PhD degree in Economics from Princeton University, Panagariya has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in various capacities.