Chief Economic Advisor (CEA) Arvind Subramanian by virtue of his background is an “outsider” to the government whose independent advise on the economic realities is of great value to the government, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Sunday. “The CEA is an outsider, who becomes an insider in the ministry. But he always retains his freedom and independence,” Jaitley said at the IIT – Delhi launch of an online course in economics for the Human Resource Development Ministry’s learning portal, which has been designed by Subramnian.
“Rather than parroting government thinking, his job is to advise government on how it actually is in reality, as also prepare blueprints for the future accordingly,” the Finance Minister said. Before his appointment to the post of CEA, Subramanian was an academic as Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in the US, where he has also worked in the International Monetary Fund.
Subramanian had discharged the CEA’s traditional role of authoring the Economic Survey differently, Jaitley said, citing the CEA’s proposal for a Universal Basic Income (UBI) scheme for people below the poverty line to replace the various subsidies. Speaking of his own situation here as one who is now in government, Subramanian last month said he saw himself in the category of persons called “insider-outsider”, who are governed by an “unwritten rule”.
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“The unwritten rule is that inside you try to influence the debate as much as possible, while outside you defend the official policy,” he said. This rule allows the insider-outsider that “extra space”, he said.
“The insider-outsider can be more truthful internally, as also on the outside, which space is not available to the babu-bureaucrat,” he said. “This space has to be acquired and it is a very fragile commodity,” he added.