PM chooses Arvind Panagariya for Niti Aayog post

  • Mahesh Langa, Hindustan Times, Ahmedabad
  • Updated: Jan 03, 2015 07:07 IST

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has picked US-based economist Arvind Panagariya as vice-chairman of think tank Niti Aayog that replaced the 65-year-old Planning Commission this week, government sources said on Friday.

Panagariya, 62, is a professor of economics at New York's Columbia University, a former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank and has also worked with the IMF, WTO and World Bank in various capacities.

"The Prime Minister has cleared his name so formal order for his appointment is likely to be issued next week," a top official from the prime minister's office told HT. He added that other members of the body will be appointed subsequently.

A staunch advocate of free-market economics, Panagariya has over the last two years been writing advisories to the BJP about how to manage the fiscal situation, sources said.

The National Institution for Transforming India (Niti) Aayog, to be headed by the Prime Minister, is expected to be distinctly different from the bureaucratic, socialist leaning, Soviet-styled plan panel.

It will have all chief ministers as members in a broad-based governing council to involve states in evolving national development priorities.

The move came nearly four months after Modi's Independence Day speech, where he announced that the Planning Commission would give way to a new body in sync with contemporary challenges, shunning the "one size fits all" approach.

Apart from a vice-chairman, the new think tank will have a chief executive officer, in addition to four cabinet ministers as ex-officio members, five full-time members and two part-time members from universities and research organisations on a rotational basis.

A cabinet resolution passed last week said the Aayog will evolve a "framework national agenda" for the PM and chief ministers, adding that it will create knowledge support through a community of national and international experts. For that, it will have domain experts as special invitees.

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