Economist Dr Rajiv Kumar was on Saturday night named the new Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog, five days after the incumbent Arvind Panagariya announced he was quitting to return to academics. The government also appointed Dr Vinod Paul, a pediatrician at AIIMS, as a member of the Aayog.
A DPhil in economics from Oxford and a PhD from Lucknow University, Kumar has held senior positions in the Ministries of Industries and Finance, and is currently serving as founding director of Pahle India Foundation, a non-profit financial, economic and political research think-tank. He is an independent member in the high-level search committee for appointment of regulators in the Indian financial sector, a government-nominated independent director on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India, an independent director on the Board of Dewan Housing Finance Corporation Ltd, and a member of the Advisory Board of CISCO India.
Kumar has been a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, the secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and chief economist at the Confederation of Indian Industry. An author of several books, Kumar released one last year called ‘Modi and his Challenges’. According to the publisher, in the book, Kumar “recommends measures that Modi must implement to deliver on his promises, thereby enabling India to realise its true potential”.
A former CEO of think-tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), Kumar was Principal Economist, Asian Development Bank, Manila, for almost a decade, and has also held government positions such as Economic Advisor in the Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, and Senior Consultant at the Bureau of Costs and Prices. He was a member of the National Security Advisory Board between 2006 and 2008.
Apart from government bodies and corporate groups, he is associated with a number of educational institutions. He is chancellor at Pune’s Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Institute of Human Development, Delhi, and of Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow.
Kumar’s wife Vineeta Shanker is also a director at Pahle India Foundation and an executive director at the Sasakawa India Leprosy Foundation. Dr Paul has done substantial work in public health.