On Tuesday, eminent economist and columnist Surjit Bhalla said he had resigned as a part-time member of Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) on December 1. “I resigned as part-time member of PMEAC on December 1,” Bhalla said in a tweet.
Recent reports stated that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) had accepted Bhalla’s resignation and that his resignation would take effect from the same date, that is, December 1.
“In his request, he had stated that he would be joining some other organisation,” a PMO official said.
Bhalla, in another tweet, said that he was resigning to pursue “consultancy with CNN IBN and work on a book about indian elections since 1952 [sic]”.
Bhalla, a contributing editor with the Indian Express, has been critical of the Reserve Bank of India for keeping its interest rates high and overestimating inflation expectations.
In his column on December 1 on the recently released back series data on India’s Gross Domestic Product, Bhalla wrote, “I, along with others, also found it inappropriate for NITI Aayog to be directly involved in the presentation of statistical data by the CSO (Central Statistics Office),” according to an Indian Express report.
Started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017, the Economic Advisory Council had identified ten areas for reviving growth and employment, such as jobs, monetary policy, public spending, and agriculture.
People familiar with the matter told the Wire that Bhalla had helped in drafting a report on employment months before his resignation. Sources have said that this report was criticised through feedback given by third-parties which included people such as Mahesh Vyas from the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE).
Who is Surjit Bhalla?
Bhalla is a Senior India Analyst at the Observatory Group, a New York-based macroeconomic policy advisory firm. He is also the Chairman of Oxus Research & Investments.
Bhalla holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University, a Masters in Public and International Affairs from Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and a BSEE degree from Purdue University.
He has taught at the Delhi School of Economics and has served as executive director of the Policy Group in New Delhi, India’s first non-government funded think tank. Since 1999, he has been on the governing board of the NCAER (National Council of Applied Economic Research) in New Delhi.
He has worked as a research economist at the Rand Corporation, the Brookings Institution, and at both the research and treasury departments of the World Bank. He has also worked as a consultant to Warburg Pincus, and has worked on Wall Street in Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs.
Bhalla is the author of several academic articles as well as three books on globalisation and its effects on the world economy. He is the author of Imagine There’s no Country (2002), Devaluing to Prosperity (2012), and The New Wealth of Nations (2017). His first book, Between the Wickets: The Who and Why of the Best in Cricket, developed a model for evaluating performance in sports and was published in 1987.
Bhalla has also been a regular contributor to Indian newspapers, magazines, and television where he is seen discussing subjects like financial markets, economics, politics, and cricket.
What is the EAC-PM?
The Economic Advisory Council was established with the aim of providing a sounding board for inculcating awareness in the government about various viewpoints on key economic issues.
The Council is headed by NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy. Other part-time members on the Council include economists Rathin Roy and Ashima Goyal, and former bureaucrat Ratan Watal.
Bhalla’s resignation marks another high-profile exit during Modi government’s tenure. On Monday, December 10, RBI governor Urjit Patel resigned “on account of personal reasons”. Patel’s resignation shed a spotlight on the war of words between the apex bank and the government.
Sources close to the development said that it was rumoured that Patel’s exit was on the cards, particularly after the controversy over the Centre allegedly asking the bank to transfer its surplus reserves.
Media reports, in October, stated that Additional Solicitor General P.S. Narasimha had tendered his resignation citing personal reasons. He has asked the government to relieve him of his responsibilities from December 15, when the Supreme Court goes for a winter break.
Narasimha had recently lost his father and he often goes to Hyderabad to look after his ailing mother. Sources close to him said he decided to quit as he did not want the government’s work in the top court to suffer.
Earlier, in June, Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian submitted his resignation and expressed his desire to return to the United States due to family commitments, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said.
“Few days ago, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian met me over video conferencing,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post. “He informed me that he would like to go back to the United States on account of pressing family commitments. His reasons were personal but extremely important for him. He left me with no option but to agree with him.”
The Central government recently appointed Krishnamurthy Subramanian to replace the outgoing CEA.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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