Economist Dr. Rajiv Kumar has been appointed (August 5, 2017) as the new Vice-Chairman of the government think tank NITI Aayog. Present vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya had stepped down earlier this month. The Columbia University professor will be returning to the U.S. to rejoin academia. Dr. Vinod Paul, pediatrician at AIIMS, has also been appointed as a member of the NITI Aayog.
Dr. Rajiv Kumar, who holds a DPhil in economics from Oxford and a Ph.D from Lucknow University, has served as director and chief executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), and has earlier worked with the Asian Development Bank. He was also a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research. He has written a book titled Modi and His Challenges. In chapter 2 of the book titled “Ideals, Ideology and Influences” , he has dealt with the period before Narendra Modi became chief minister of Gujarat. This doesn’t have material that is new or unknown and draws extensively on earlier books by M V Kamath and Kalindi Randeri, Andy Marino, Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Sudesh Verma and Madhu Kishwar. Having immersed himself in these biographies, Mr Kumar gives us the core biographic details and lists 14 “principle [sic] drivers of Modi’s behavior”. He adds, “It will be interesting to examine if some of the traits enumerated have found their expression in Modi’s administration over 12 years in Gujarat”. In chapter 3, he has examined the Gujarat model. At one place he hasexpressed surprise why Modi has , for some mysterious reasons, consciously dispensed with the prime minister’s economic advisory council; abolished also the national manufacturing competitiveness council; not appointed a professional economist in the PMO, as also not a media adviser; and also replaced the erstwhile planning commission with a rather sharply-pruned reincarnation in the form of NITI Aayog [sic]…There might be merit in having regular access to a variety of opinions and inputs, especially when one is on a learning curve. He has in his interviews with media emphasized the need for growth of the manufacturing sector, employment creation to take advantage of demographic dividend and skill formation as important challenges in front of Modi government.