Arvind Panagariya shares 5 striking similarities with outgoing RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016 | by


Arvind Panagariya is one such potential candidate for the post of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor who can fill the large shoes being vacated by Raghuram Rajan. Although, Panagariya was not in the list of probables prepared by the government earlier in the month, he is now considered to the most impressive contender, according to a Business Standard report. The announcement regarding the appointment is expected to be made by Wednesday.

Panagariya is currently the vice chairman of NITI Aayog, the federal policy making body which has replaced the Nehruvian era Planning Commission. According to financial commentators, Panagariya has equally impressive credentials as the outgoing RBI Governor, and the euphoria he would create with his appointment would make him the next ‘rockstar at Mint Road’.

Here are 5 striking similarities between Arvind Panagariya and Raghuram Rajan:

Academic Stalwarts

Rajan shares a relationship with the University of Columbia for nearly two decades. It was in 1991 when Rajan joined the institute as a professor of Finance. He later headed the department of International Corporate Finance, before returning to India. Rajan’s book Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy is still considered to be the guiding light for modern economists. Similarly, Panagariya was an active faculty as the Columbia University. It was in August 2015, when he quit his job as professor to return to India and head the NITI Aayog. In terms of academic achievements, none could deny that Panagariya’s work  India: The Emerging Giant is the most apt book highlighting the economic goals ahead for India and the feasibility of achieving it.

Following the footsteps of Sam Pitroda

The trend of educated elites returning back to India to serve their motherland was initiated by Sam Pitroda, one of the closest aide of Rajiv Gandhi. His expertise was used by the late Prime Minister to carry out the mass-scale telecommunication mapping across the nation. Similarly, Rajan’s skills were sought by the UPA-II government headed by Manmohan Singh, in order to control the spiralling inflation. In the same manner, Panagariya, the chief economist at Asian Development Bank, was recalled by Modi regime to use his skill set for planning long term roadmap for the nation.

Commitment to pro-market principles

Both Panagariya and Rajan share the same school of thought when it comes to macro economics. Both of them have spent considerable amount of time in the neo-liberal market, and have enjoyed stints in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Simultaneous rise with the respective ruling regimes

Rajan could be considered as the blue-eyed boy of the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who chose him as the Chief Economic Adviser in 2012, and a year later, promoted him as the RBI Governor. Similarly, Panagariya was called back to India in August 2015 by the Narendra Modi government, and appointed as the vice chairman of NITI Aayog, a body with the same relevance as the now defunct Planning Commission.

Indo-American economists

The hallmark of Rajan’s career has been his stint as the chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. Similarly, Panagariya has been associated with World Bank, IMF and the World Trade Organization.



Unlike Rajan, who used to embarrass the government on socio-political issues like ‘intolerance’, ‘secularism’ and ‘beef ban’, Panagariya would be a dedicated soldier of the ruling dispensation who would not air his opinions on unrelated and contentious matters. So far, he enjoys a cordial relationship with the BJP regime, and has confessed his admiration for the policies of Narendra Modi on various occasions.

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