Panagariya was appointed the Aayog vice-chairman in January 2015, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to replace the erstwhile Planning Commission with a body that better reflected the realities of Centre-state relations.
The National Democratic Alliance government considered the Commission a relic of Soviet-era planning. During Panagariya’s time at the Aayog, five-year planning was stopped, and the task of resource allocation, which was the Planning Commission’s responsibility, shifted to the finance ministry’s expenditure department.
The Aayog has been involved in coming up with concept papers and recommendations on a number of issues, including agricultural challenges, crop prices, private-public partnerships in health care, changes in start-up policy, and national energy policy.
The Aayog has also identified a number of state-owned companies, profitable as well as insolvable, in which the Centre has planned to divest its majority stake.
Two Sangh Parivar affiliates, the Swadeshi Jagran Manch and Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh, were critical of the Aayog’s role in the Centre’s economic policies, especially strategic disinvestment, and had written to the Prime Minister’s Office on this. Panagariya was chief economist, Asian Development Bank, and professor of economics at the University of Maryland at College Park. He has worked with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. He holds a PhD in economics from Princeton University.
(With inputs from Subhayan Chakraborty)