The Niti Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya on Tuesday resigned from his position and said he will return to academia. He said he has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to relieve him of his duties by August 31 as he was not getting extension of leave from Columbia University.
In August 2014, PM Modi had announced that the Planning Commission had become redundant, and hand-picked Panagariya, the Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University, to head the organisation in its new avatar, the National Institution for Transforming India or NITI Aayog.
In March 2012, Panagariya was honoured with Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award the country bestows in any field.
Free-market economist Arvind Panagariya has been one of the most vocal supporters of ‘Gujarat model of growth’. A renowned Indian-American economist, 62-year old Mr Panagariya 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. Much before Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to the national scene, Mr Panagariya has been voicing his support for the economic policies of the former Gujarat Chief Minister during his tenure in the state.
Mr Panagariya and Mr Bhagwati, in a book co-authored by them and named India’s Trust with Destiny: Debunking Myths that Undermine Progress and Addressing New Challenges’, used ‘Gujarat Model’ as a metaphor for development primarily driven by growth and private entrepreneurship.
An advisor to Vasundhra Raje government in Rajasthan, he was seen as a big supporter of the state’s labour reforms.
And Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen who was challenged by Panagariya for debate had called the Narendra Modi government’s demonetisation move “despotic action that has struck at the root of economy based on trust.”
“It (demonetisation) undermines notes, it undermines bank accounts, it undermines the entire economy of trust.
That is the sense in which it is despotic,” Prof. Sen told to a TV channel. “It’s (demonetisation) a disaster on economy of trust. In the last 20 years, the country has been growing very fast. But it is all based on acceptance of each other’s word. By taking despotic action and saying we had promised but won’t fulfil our promise, you hit at the root of this,” Prof. Sen said.
We don’t don’t really know who was wrong. Did Panagariya not know in advance that he won’t get extension of leave from Columbia University where he was teaching?