New Delhi: Noted economist Arvind Panagariya has been appointed chairman of the NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog, that has replaced the earlier Planning Commission.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also appointed full-time members, ex-officio members and special invitees.
The full-time members are Bibek Debroy, an economist and professor at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research and scientist V.K. Saraswat, who has served as director general of the Defence Research and Development Organisation and as chief scientific advisor to the defence minister.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh will be ex-officio members of the Aayog.
Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani will be special invitees to the Aayog, an official release said.
The government Thursday replaced the Planning Commission with a new institution called NITI (National Institution for Transforming India) Aayog that would serve as a think tank of the government. The prime minister would be chairperson of the commission.
“The institution will serve as a ‘think tank’ of the government — a directional and policy dynamo. NITI Aayog will provide governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy,” a cabinet release said.
Apart from the prime minister as chairperson, the NITI Aayog will have a governing council comprising the chief ministers of all the states and the lieutenant governors of union territories.
Panagariya is currently economics professor at Columbia University and former chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.
An admirer of the so-called “Gujarat model” of development, his views on the economy are considered similar to that of Modi’s.
The debate on economic policy has been enlivened in recent times by the divergent positions of Nobel prize-winner Amartya Sen on one side and Panagariya and Jagdish Bhagwati on the other on what India’s governance priorities’should be.
In “Why Growth Matters: How Economic Growth in India Reduced Poverty and the Lessons for Other Developing Countries”, Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagriya argue that growth would not merely pull people above the poverty line but it would have the added effect of generating revenue, which could then be used to undertake redistribution.
From Amartya Sen’s perspective, India is in a dreadful state, where its successful growth record has been spoiled by abysmal levels of human development. He says growth is meaningless without government spending on human capabilities.