Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Arvind Panagariya likely to head Committee for restructuring Railway Board

Arvind Panagariya.jpg
Arvind Panagariya – a Chief Economist worked for various International Banks, Universities and other Government Bodies and is one of the proven and eminent ‘Reformist’ chosen by Modi for reforming Indian Railways.  Arvind comes with strong Banking, Finance, Economics with strong Financial Engineering skills background
New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has nominated a committee for restructuring the Railway Board, which manages the Indian Railways. Its members will include economist Arvind Panagariya, ex-cabinet secretary KM Chandrasekhar and retired railway finance commissioner Rajendra Kashyap. Panagariya is likely to head the committee which will also have a representative from the private infrastructure sector and a member nominated by the department of economic affairs.
Highly placed sources in the government confirmed that the terms of reference of the committee, in addition to the restructuring, will be merger of departments, exchange of officers from other departments, modes of financing and implementation of the Rail Tariff Authority.
Restructuring of the Railway Board had been announced by railway minister DV Sadanand Gowda in his budget speech. Several discussions had taken place regarding the same in the railway ministry, but nothing concrete had been decided yet. Singh is visiting Jharkhand on Tuesday for a review of the situation after a report prepared by the ministry said anti-Maoist operations have yielded “very poor results”.
“Largescale extortions and levy collection by Maoists and presence of seven splinter Naxal groups in Jharkhand, the worst Naxal-affected state, make the situation worse in the state. “The sum and substance of the discussions at the highest level is that there is a need to separate the policy making aspect from the implementation. The role of the board, as it exists now, will be redefined and it will only be responsible for operations and implementation of the policies,” disclosed a railway official who was part of the discussions.
The policy making, on the other hand, will be left to a panel of experts, in which some board members may be co-opted. It will have experts on safety, finance and infrastructure. It will have a representative from the finance ministry to decide on issues related to foreign direct investment and any cess.
“The decision to separate the policy making and operations aspects is almost final. The board had failed to come up with a long-term policy on development of railways. The organisation has been running on a project-to-project basis.
It lacks a proper programme approach, something like Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s highway development programme,” the official explained. However, railway officials said that while restructuring was a long-term plan, the government could not afford to lose sight of immediate concerns. These included a number of vacancies at the top level that was preventing any decision-making and policy formation in the railways. “The railway ministry is functioning without a member (electrical) and a regular finance commissioner. Oner half-a-dozen posts of general managers are lying vacant with the file of the GM panel stuck with the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).”
About Arvind Panagariya
Born on September 30, 1952 Mr.Arvind Panagariya is an Indian-American economist and Professor of Economics at Columbia University and an ex-Chief Economist at the Asian Development Bank. In the past, he has been the Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank and a Professor of Economics and Co-director, Center for International Economics, University of Maryland at College Park. He has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in various capacities. He holds a Ph.D. degree in Economics from Princeton University.
Panagariya has written/edited ten books. His latest book, India: The Emerging Giant—was published in March 2008 by the Oxford University Press, New York and has been described as the ‘definitive book on the Indian economy’ by Fareed Zakaria and ‘a tour de horizon and a tour de force’ by Jagdish Bhagwati. His previous books include The Economics of Preferential Trade Agreements, 1996, AEI Press (with Jagdish Bhagwati) and Lectures on International Trade, 1998, MIT Press (with J. Bhagwati and T.N. Srinivasan).
Panagariya is an editor of the India Policy Forum, a journal modeled on the Brookings Papers on Economic Activity and jointly published by the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C. and the National Council on Applied Economic Research, New Delhi. His technical papers have appeared in the American Economic Review, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Review of Economic Studies, Journal of International Economics, and International Economic Review while his policy papers have appeared in the Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, World Economy, Journal of International Affairs and Finance and Development.
Panagariya writes a monthly column in The Economic Times, India’s top financial daily. He has also written guest columns in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Hindu, India Today and Outlook. He has appeared on numerous national and foreign television channels.
He also features in Bloomberg TV India for the show “Transforming India With Arvind Panagriya”

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