Amitabh Kant has been instrumental in bringing a lot of private sector talent to Niti Aayog and has been the key driver of some of the Prime Minister’s pet schemes like Make in India and Startup India.
As one Arvind bows out, there are murmurs that another one—currently employed as the chief economic advisor in the finance ministry—may take over from Panagariya as vice chairman of the government’s think-tank Niti Aayog.
And while many names are being discussed in the corridors of the capital’s Parliament Street building, Niti Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant is tipped to be the front-runner for the post.
Another contender is said to be Reserve Bank of India’s former Deputy Governor Rakesh Mohan.
Panagariya resigned from his post Tuesday to go back to teaching at Columbia University in the US.
Both Kant and Subramanian have endeared themselves to the Narendra Modi government.
A 1980 batch, Kerala cadre Indian Administrative Service officer, Kant has been the driving force behind some of the Prime Minister’s pet schemes like Make in India and Startup India.
Kant is the first CEO of the body since it came to be known as Niti Aayog, its earlier avatar being Planning Commission which had no CEO. Kant has been instrumental in bringing a lot of professional talent from the private sector to Niti Aayog. He has been at the forefront of articulating the think-tank’s views on various policy issues in the government and at various public fora.
There is one hitch in Kant’s case. The post of the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman is usually held by an economist whereas Kant is a career bureaucrat. Insiders say he could be moved out of Niti Aayog to an “even bigger role”. There is no denying that Kant has been the public face of Niti Aayog even through Panagariya held a higher rank.
Subramanian has struck a cordial relationship with the Finance Minister. Arun Jaitley came out in Subramanian’s defence when BJP MP Subramanian Swamy last year called for his sacking for supporting the US’ stand on intellectual property rights.What goes against the former economist at the International Monetary Fund is that he is younger than Kant. For him to become the Vice Chairman then, Kant will have to be given that “even bigger role”.