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No past leader showed courage to appoint an outsider at this level: Panagariya in his letter to PM

Author: Aman Sharma
Publication: The Times of India
Date: August 3, 2017
URL:   http://m.timesofindia.com/business/india-business/no-past-leader-showed-courage-to-appoint-an-outsider-at-this-level-panagariya-in-his-letter-to-pm/articleshow/59891469.cms

NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya had profusely thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his resignation letter last week, saying "no previous leader had shown the courage to appoint an outsider" at this level in the Government of India.

Panagariya on Tuesday announced his resignation and said the Prime Minister had accepted the same. In his formal letter to the PM sent a few days ago, according to top government sources, Panagariya had said it had been a "true privilege" for him to serve under the PM in the past two-and-a-half years.

"I would like to say that this has been a dream come true but even that would fall short of what has happened. For the opportunity and experience you have made possible have been well beyond anything I had dreamt. No previous leader has shown the courage to appoint an outsider at this level in the Government of India," Panagariya wrote in his letter to the PM, sources say.

Panagariya also hailed the PM for raising the stature of India on the global stage under his "bold leadership" and said nothing illustrated that better than the attention received by the PM from the world leaders at the recent G20 Summit in Hamburg.

He then suggested that the roles of NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman and the G-20 Sherpa should be handled separately, "as going forward the work of the G-20 Sherpa would only expand." So far, both roles are undertaken by the same person.

"During the past two years, the responsibilities of the NITI Aayog have multiplied at a fast pace. This has meant rapidly rising demands on the time of the Vice-Chairman. To ensure that the work of the NITI Aayog and G20 engagements receive due attention, it may be worth considering separating these roles in future. A full-time G20 Sherpa would in any case be a necessity if India were to host the G-20 Summit in the future," Panagariya wrote.

This letter had followed a meeting lately between the NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman and the PM wherein the former had expressed his intention to return to academics. Panagariya, in his letter, reminded PM of their last meeting when he had mentioned that his leave from Columbia University is ending soon and his wife was keen to return closer to their children.

"Accordingly, I am writing to request that I may be relieved of my duties as the Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog by 31st August, 2017. This would allow me to resume my employment at Columbia University beginning September 5, 2017," Panagariya wrote to the PM. Sources said the PM hence accepted the request.
 
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