Dr V Anantha Nageswaran was appointed as the government’s Chief Economic Advisor on Friday, days before Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presenting the economic assessment and the Union Budget 2022.
Economist Nageswaran has been an author, teacher, and consultant, and has taught at several business schools and management institutes in India and Singapore, according to a statement from the Union Finance Ministry. He has written articles, including one in which he outlined the advantages of structural reforms initiated on November 8, 2016, through demonetisation.
The CEA plays a key role in bringing out the Economic Survey, which presents the economic report card of the Government during the year and suggestions on possible reforms. The Survey this year will likely be a trimmed down version, with only one volume as against the usual two.
After the previous CEA KV Subramanian’s three-year term ended in December, several names were shortlisted for the position, including Pami Dua, Professor, Delhi School of Economics; Poonam Gupta, Director General, National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER); and, Principal Economic Adviser Sanjeev Sanyal.
Nageswaran was the Dean of the IFMR Graduate School of Business and a Visiting Professor of Economics at Krea University. He has also been a part-time member of the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister from 2019 to 2021.
He has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Management from the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad as well as a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He is also one of the co-founders of the Takshashila Institution, a public policy research and education centre.
In recent columns, Nageswaran has emphasised the need for a post-Covid economic re-evaluation as well as the impact of the pandemic on various sectors of the economy.
Nageswaran listed rising inflation as the “greatest scholastic challenge currently being faced by central banks around the world” in an article co-authored with State Bank of India Group Chief Economic Advisor Soumya Kanti Ghosh in October 2021.
“…since the global financial crisis of 2008, they have been striving valiantly to push it up, and now they are struggling to bring it down. More importantly, there is now a perceptible difference in what is driving inflation: It is neither wage increases nor fiscal expansion. It is global supply shocks,” the piece said.
In another piece in November 2020 in The Indian Express, Nageswaran wrote that demonetisation led to formalisation of the economy, acted as a catalyst for digitisation of financial transactions, stirred a debate about entrenched informality in the economy, and led to re-classification of MSME enterprises and the decriminalisation of violations of many penal provisions of the Companies Act.
“Doubtless, structural reforms have played their role as they required the public to abandon old methods and practices and adopt a more compliant culture. That is a long-term trend that looks irreversible. Once the current uncertainty over the lingering growth impact of the Covid-19 pandemic abates, the benefits of these reform measures will shine through,” he had written.
In a recent column in Mint, he had argued for the reopening of educational institutions for a healthier India.
Nageswaran has authored several books. He also co-authored Can India grow? and The Rise of Finance: Causes, Consequences and Cures with IAS officer Gulzar Natarajan, who was then posted as director in the Prime Minister’s Office, and The Economics of Derivatives with T V Somanathan, the then director with World Bank and now Finance Secretary.
Prior to the repeal of the farm laws, Nageswaran wrote that policymakers should have more extensive consultations.
“Policymakers have to anticipate the grievances of losers and prepare mitigation strategies and responses in advance. In most cases, such preparation is about wider consultation, recognition of participation, and making space for co-ownership of the change. This is sound policymaking with risk management, for a setback in one field of policy reform could have a contagion effect on other reforms and governance in general,” he wrote in “Mint” on December 7, 2020.
Nageswaran’s appointment has also been welcomed by those from across the political aisle. “Having known Ananth well for over a decade & co-authored many articles with him, I welcome his appointment… I’m sure he will revive the lost intellectual heft of the Office of the CEA in the Finance Ministry,” said Praveen Chakravarty, political economist who heads the Data Analytics department of the Congress.