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Modi’s Niti pick sparks murmurs

Dubbing Panagariya as a follower of neoliberal economic policies, economists from Left groups have averred that formulations of new policies at NITI Aayog under its new vice-chairman will not be people-friendly.

A renowned economist, on the condition of not to be named, said, “The Modi government which follows neo liberal polices has appointed a person of their choice to head the new plan body. That’s what we can expect from this government.”

“It’s obvious that polices related with poor people will not get right say under Panagariya as his knowledge about poor population dependent on MNREGA and other pro-poor schemes is limited,’ the economist, also a former Planning Commission member, said. It is pertinent to mention here that during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Panagariya had endorsed Modi’s policies and had backed the Gujarat model of development.

Economist Panagariya, who is a Columbia University professor, was on Monday appointed as the vice-chairman of the NITI Aayog. Apart from him, former defence secretary and scientist VK Saraswat and economist Bibek Debroy have also been appointed as members. Debroy had worked with the Rajiv Gandhi foundation, before being eased out for applauding the Gujarat model of development. The panel will consist of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu and Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh. NITI Aayog has been conceived as a think-tank and policy body for the central and state governments.

The NITI Aayog would be headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and have a vice chairman and a CEO. It is likely to have seven-eight full-time members and two part-time members. The effort would be to involve states in economic policy making, and move away from the top down approach of the past. Modi had announced scrapping of the Planning Commission in his Independence Day speech and had consulted chief ministers before unveiling the new institution.

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