Given Arvind Subramanian\u2019s lack of enthusiasm for demonetisation, his unease with the manner in which the GST structure evolved, or even the guarded way in he chose to respond to the ban on cattle slaughter and its social impact\u2014if social policies, he said, \u201cdrive (down the) terminal value (of livestock) precipitously \u2026 that could make livestock farming less profitable\u201d\u2014it is easy to conclude the chief economic adviser (CEA) had been marginalised and had a limited role in policy formulation. That, however, would be missing the wood for the trees, for though there is little doubt Subramanian\u2019s views didn\u2019t have as much traction as he would have liked, his role in key policies was significant, much like that of the CEAs in the 1990s when India\u2019s first tryst with economic reforms began. It was Subramanian\u2019s report on what the GST\u2019s revenue-neutral-rate should be that, as finance minister Arun Jaitley said, was the base document for the negotiations between the central and state governments. And when powerful state governments like Gujarat\u2014which had the backing of the prime minister\u2014demanded a 1% tax to compensate for the removal of the CST, it was the CEA who argued that this would result in a 4-5% cascading tax which would make it more attractive to import goods instead of making them in India. Along with Arbind Modi, who then headed risk assessment in the income tax department, the CEA wrote an op-ed article explaining how even seemingly equitable solutions\u2014excise exemption for local goods and no CVD on imports\u2014could lead to significant tax disadvantages for local industry. Similarly, when the government floundered over changes in labour laws, due to the opposition from trade unions, along with the textiles secretary, it was Subramanian that came up with an acceptable solution that later became the template for incremental labour reforms in other sectors. And while many in the government didn\u2019t care for Subramanian\u2019s liberal views, it was him they turned to when RBI continued its hawkish stance\u2014it was the CEA that showed how RBI continued to overestimate inflation by huge margins over the last few years. Subramanian\u2019s USP was not just his ability to spot trends or to substantiate them with lots of data and analytics, but to back them with eloquent writing, and more. So, he wrote powerful op-eds, like one in the Financial Times, arguing that the Western position on coal was \u2018carbon imperialism\u2019, explained why the idyllic picture on the solar revolution had got it completely wrong, examined what drove India\u2019s migration patterns and the lessons that should be drawn from this, explained how the NPA crisis was far from over at a time when most said believed it had played itself out, and he was the first to formally articulate the government\u2019s JAM vision. Not surprising then, his new-style Economic Surveys\u2014as opposed to the hitherto dull and uninspiring ones\u2014became teaching material in some colleges and universities; the ever-enthusiastic CEA even converted some of this into an online course on contemporary themes in India\u2019s development. Losing a CEA, especially one as bright as Subramanian, is problematic for any government, but more so for one that is in its last year\u2014at a time when the pressure to be populist and embark upon, say, farm loan waivers, will be high, his wise counsel will be missed. This is not to say that he always got it right\u2014he pushed for a \u201cbad bank\u201d, but the NCLT process seems to be working much better, warts and all, and his forecast of a $50 ceiling to oil prices seems na\u00efve today. In his three-and-a-half-years, though, he was more right than wrong, a powerful voice for reform, with the intellectual capability to understand how various moves would eventually play out.