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Indian-American economist to be Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog

Almost a year preceding the general elections of 2014, it was in July 2013 that eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati lapped up the economic conviction that only reforms which boost economic growth can generate resources to finance social and infrastructure spend. This was the constant point he reiterated in his famous public discourse with another stalwart Amartya Sen – thereby, in his own way also setting the agenda for whosoever would be taking over the reins of the country post the elections. Now, almost a year after the government formation, it is Bhagwati’s protégé, Arvind Panagariya, a reformist himself who will take government’s growth agenda forward. He has been appointed as the vice chairman of the Niti Aayog, which replaces the Planning Commission.Noted economist Bibek Debroy and scientist VK Saraswat have been appointed as the members of the Aayog. The body will also have finance minister Arun Jaitley, home minister Rajnath Singh, agriculture minister Radha Mohan Singh and railway minister Suresh Prabhu as ex-officio members. Nitin Gadkari, Smriti Zubin Irani and Thawar Chand Gehlot will be special invitees.Panagariya is professor of Indian Political Economy at the Columbia University. He holds a PHD degree in economics from Priceton University. Panagariya has served as a professor of economics and co-director, Center for International Economics, University of Maryland. He has also served the World Bank, World Trade Organisation, International Monetary Fund and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in different capacities.Panagariya has authored several books and edited some others. India: The Emerging Giant, by Panagariya was published in March 2008 by the Oxford University Press, New York.Panagariya had been vocal in his support for the Modi model of development for the last two years. He has supported the Gujarat model in his articles. On the state of the minorities in Gujarat, he observed in his article in an Indian daily, “Gujarat also deserves applause for the large cuts in poverty among the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Muslims. At 7.7 per cent, Gujarat boasts the lowest poverty ratio for Muslims in rural areas. The state also counts among the seven states with lower poverty ratio for Muslims than Hindus in rural and urban areas combined.”Noted economist Bibek Debroy is professor at the Centre of Policy Research, New Delhi. Debroy studied at University of Calcutta, Delhi School of Economics and Trinity College, Cambridge. He has earlier worked with the finance ministry as a consultant in the department of economic affairs and director of the Legal Adjustments and Reforms for Globalising the Economy set up by the finance ministry and the UNDP. Apart from an economist, Debroy is also an indologist with works such as transalation of Bhagwad Geeta to his credit.Vijay Kumar Saraswat has also been inducted into the Aayog as a member. Saraswat retired as the chief scientific advisor to the minister of defence in May 2013. He is the former director general of the Defence Research and Development Officer.