Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian will get back to research and academics again in the US in September this year, leaving behind a rich policy footprint in areas of taxation, banking, and financial inclusion, among others.
Earlier during the day, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in a Facebook post thanked Subramanian and signaled that the economist is on his way out from his current role in the ministry of finance--advising the government on key economic issues.
Addressing the press, Subramanian on Wednesday said that he will return back to the US for ‘personal reasons’—to a life of researching, writing, teaching and reflecting .
“This is the best job I have ever had and probably ever will,” he told the reporters, adding that the last date for his role as the CEA is yet to be fixed.
Subramanian was appointed on October 16, 2014 for three years as the CEA, a post that had been lying vacant since September 2013 after Raghuram Rajan took over as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor. His term was extended for another year in September, last year.
Subramanian’s highly acclaimed “Report on the Revenue Neutral Rate and Structure of Rates for the Goods and Services Tax (GST)” in December 2015, served as a guidebook for the eventual rollout of India’s most ambitious tax reform that kicked in from July last year, seeking to unite the country into a single common tax market.
He also made a strong theoretical argument favouring the launch of universal basic income (UBI) scheme as a state-assisted poverty alleviation plan involving direct money transfer to people’s bank accounts.
He has used the Economic Survey to recommended policy changes, sometimes even sweeping measures. In 2015, he introduced the phrase ‘JAM’—Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, Mobile—to the Indian policy lexicon. The ‘JAM agenda’ refers to the potential of largescale, technology-enabled, real-time cash transfers to improve the economic lives of the poor, and raise efficiency by reducing leakages and market distortions.
He has also been given the credit for early diagnosis of the twin balance sheet challenge, and supported the macro-economic strategy of a public investment push, beginning with the Union Budget 2015-16.
In 2016, the Economic Survey constructed an index to measure states’ preparedness to implement two varieties of JAM programmes: direct benefit transfer (DBT) and BAPU—Biometrically Authenticated Physical Uptake. BAPU differs from DBT in that there is no transfer of money. Beneficiaries simply authenticate their identities and physically collect benefits or subsidised goods as they do presently.
Subramanian, whom the Foreign Policy magazine had named as one of the world's top 100 global thinkers in 2011, has also been ranked amongst the top 1 per cent of the world's academic economists in terms of citation of research, according to the widely used REPEC rankings. He has studied at St. Stephens College, Delhi; the Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad, India; and University of Oxford.