Giving a final shape to the NITI Aayog, the government on Monday appointed US-based economist and Columbia university professor Arvind Panagariya as the first vice chairperson of the newly created agency.
“The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has appointed Arvind Panagariya, economist as the vice chairman of the NITI Aayog,” said an official release that also announced the appointment of six more members and three special invitees to the agency. Economist Bibek Debroy and former DRDO chief VK Saraswat have been appointed as full time members of the NITI Aayog.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, minister of finance, corporate affairs and information and broadcasting Arun Jaitley, railway minister Suresh Prabhu and agriculutre minister Radha Mohan Singh have been named ex-officio members of the agency while three union ministers have been appointed as special invitees to the NITI Aayog — minister of road transport, highways and shipping Nitin Gadkari, human resource development minister Smriti Z Irani and minister for social justice and empowerment Thawar Chand Gehlot.
Columbia professor a Gujarat model supporter
For a career academician, 62-year-old Panagariya’s most recent role in policy-making in India was as the deputy chairman of the Rajasthan chief minister’s advisory council, where Debroy was also a member.
A PhD from Princeton University, Panagariya is currently a Professor of Economics and the Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy in the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. Awarded Padma Bhushan in 2012, Panagariya has been a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Gujarat development model.
He had also advocated higher spending on infrastructure in order to boost growth, even if it led to widening of the fiscal deficit.
In the past, he has been the Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank and has also worked for the World Bank, IMF, WTO, and UNCTAD in various capacities.
Professor Panagariya has authored more than a fifteen books including — India: The Emerging Giant, Trade, Globalization and Poverty & Why Growth Matters which he wrote along with his mentor and Columbia University Professor, Jagdish Bhagwati.
Panagariya also happens to be a big advocate of the trickle down effect of market reforms. He had earlier argued in a a column that in the next round of reforms the government should follow an approach that, “empowers beneficiaries instead of public providers,” and that “revenues must be redistributed to the beneficiaries through cash, school vouchers and health insurance, allowing them to decide whether they want to buy food, education and health from private or public providers.