Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved reconstitution of government think-tank Niti Aayog, dropping Bibek Debroy while retaining other full time members and including Home Minister Amit Shah as an ex-officio member.
Rajiv Kumar will continue as vice-chairman of the body, along with other full-time members V K Saraswat, Ramesh Chand and V K Paul, an official statement said.
Debroy was appointed full-time member when the Aayog was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015.
Besides Shah, other three ex-officio members are Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
Special invitees to the Aayog are Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari, Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, Railways and Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, and Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Statistics and Programme Implementation Rao Inderjit Singh.
Niti Aayog is the premier policy think tank of the government and provides both “directional and policy inputs”.
While designing strategic and long term policies and programmes for the Central government, it also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and states. The Aayog was set up in 2015 after replacing Planning Commission, a vestige of the socialist era.
Arvind Panagariya was the first vice-chairman of the Aayog. He was replaced by Kumar in September 2017.
Kumar holds a PhD in Economics from Lucknow University and a DPhil from Oxford University. In the government, he was Economic Advisor with Department of Economic Affairs and Senior Consultant at the Bureau of Industrial Costs and Prices (BICP), Ministry of Industry.
He was Principal Economist at the Asian Development Bank, Manila where he spent 10 years. He has also been Chief Economist at CII and Secretary General of FICCI.
Saraswat, a Master of Engineering from IISc Bangalore, holds a PhD from Osmania University.
He has been credited with development of Liquid Propulsion Rocket Engines and missiles namely Prithvi, Dhanush, Prahaar indigenously.
Full-time member Ramesh Chand was Director, National Institute of Agricultural Economics and Policy Research, New Delhi before joining the Aayog.
Prior to his appointment at Niti Aayog, Paul was a member of the faculty at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi for over 32 years and Head of the Department of Pediatrics for nearly a decade.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to chair the fifth meeting of Aayog’s Governing Council on June 15 to discuss various issues concerning water management, agriculture and security.
The council, the apex body of the Aayog, includes all chief ministers, lieutenant governors of union territories, several union ministers and senior government officials.
This will be the first governing council meeting under the new Modi government.