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Rajiv Kumar quits as NITI Aayog vice chairman, Economist Dr Suman K Bery to take over

By Ruchi Upadhyay 
Updated Date
Rajiv Kumar quits as NITI Aayog vice chairman, Economist Dr Suman K Bery to take over

New Delhi: NITI Aayog vice chairman Rajiv Kumar, who was appointed to the policy think tank five years ago, has decided to step down, sources reported. Rajiv Kumar took over as vice chairman in August 2017 after his predecessor Arvind Panagariya left the NITI Aayog. Dr Suman K Bery has been appointed as the new vice-chairman.

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Kumar had taken over in August 2017, replacing Arvind Panagariya who resigned from the post to return to academics.

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Bery will take charge from May 1, 2022, an official order said. Kumar’s tenure will end on April 30. According to the order, Kumar’s resignation has been accepted and he would be relieved from the post with effect from April 30.

Bery is a former Director General of the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER), a position he held for a decade from 2001 to 2011. He also served as a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, the Reserve Bank of India’s Technical Advisory Committee and the National Statistical Commission.

Prior to NCAER, Bery was with the World Bank in Washington DC and his areas included macroeconomy, financial markets and public debt management with a focus on Latin America. He did his undergraduate studies at Magdalen College, Oxford University, in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and holds a Master’s in Public Affairs (MPA) degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University.

Bery had noted that the lockdowns being imposed across the world would have profound economic implications, and called for a “coherent policy response”. Back in 2010, when Bery was a member of Manmohan Singh’s Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council, he had batted for the RBI to tighten its monetary policy to rein in the rising inflation.

In August 2017, days after he was named NITI Aayog Vice Chairman-designate, a column written by Rajiv Kumar appeared in Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, where he called out the foreign influence on Indian policy-making by Indian-American economists, and said this was fading at the time with the resignations of Raghuram Rajan as RBI Governor and Panagariya as NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman. He wrote that even as the love for foreign goods declined following the 1991 liberalisation of the economy, it took a long time for the country’s policy-making establishment to get rid of the “Macaulayist mentality”.

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In August 2019, taking cognizance of the bad liquidity situation in the financial sector and weak private investment in the economy, Kumar had said that since the government was faced with an “unprecedented issue”, it needed to take steps that were “out of the ordinary”. He said the government needed to take measures that eliminated the distrust in the private sector players and encouraged them to raise investments.

Kumar holds a DPhil in Economics from Oxford and a PhD from Lucknow University. He also served as the Chancellor of Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow. He earlier served on the central boards of State Bank of India for two terms and on the central board of the RBI.

He was also the Chief Economist of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) during 2004-2006; Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) during 2011-2013; Director and Chief Executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER); and held positions with the Asian Development Bank, Finance and Industries ministries.

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