The Vice President of the Planning Commission

Bhubaneswar: After coming to power at the centre in 2014, the government led by the Bharatiya Janata Party ( BJP), formed the National Institute for Transforming India by disabling the planning commission. This has been operating as the highest think tank organisation and policymaker of the government of India for seven years. This organisation aims to spread cooperative federalism by incorporating all the state governments in the fiscal policies. As per the rule, the chairman of this commission is the prime minister of the country. Arvind Pandaria had taken charge as the first vice president of the organisation. Afterwards, when he shifted to abroad for pursuing teaching as a profession, Rajiv Kumar took charge in 2017. On 22 April, when Mr Kumar resigned from the position citing personal reasons, Dr Suman K Bery, one of the most prominent economists, was appointed as the next vice president of the Planning Commission. After the Ministry of Labour announces Suman’s name and issues notifications, he will take charge officially from the 1st of May. While the government of India is facing financial turmoil due to the political situation along with the covid-19 pandemic, it is obvious that the economists, policymakers and technocrats should keep an eye on how the appointment of Suman can help proceed in the works of the planning commission. Suman has made a name for himself working as a non-resident fellow in the European think tank ‘ Brussels’, which is why his personality has come to the fore after he was appointed the VP of the Planning Commission.

With the help of his talent, Indian born Suman has made himself known as one of the best economists in the world, researcher, and writer. He started his studies in the Dehradun school, then studied in the Oakham school in Britain. He has studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. He has got degrees from Woodrow Willson School of Public and International Affairs. His professional career started with World Bank in 1972. In this Washington based organisation, he spent 28 years making a name as a leading economist. In 2001, he became the director-general of the National Council of Applied Economic Research ( NCAER) leaving the World Bank. Mr Suman has been able to create a vast reading circle by publishing his writings on forums like Forbes, Business Standard, Indian Express, and Economic and Political Weekly. He has also worked as the former Indian Country Director of the International Growth Center. He was a member of the Raghuram Committee of the Financial Sector Reforms. Notably, this committee was made by the government of India for the economic reform of the country. When Dr Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister of India, Suman was a member of the Prime Minister’s Financial Advisory Committee, the World Bank Technical Advisory Committee, and the National Statistics Commission.

In March 2020, Suman criticised the worldwide composition of lockdown through his writings by stating it will affect the world economy adversely. He proposed formulating a coherent policy in this regard. In the present situation, he has been appointed as the Chairman of the Planning Commission when it has been considered to withdraw funds from most government organisations and innovatively print currency. Since Goods and Services Tax ( GST) has been enforced the state and centre are juggling to find a suitable way of revenue distribution so financial allies have not been organised. In this circumstance, Suman’s long experience will help accelerate the workflow of the Planning Commission. Because though he is in the second position in the organisation, his explicit involvement has put him in the position of the real policymaker.