Surjit Bhalla quits PM’s economic council

Economist Surjit Bhalla, who had faulted the Niti Aayog’s involvement in the release of re-stated economic growth numbers of the UPA government, has resigned as a member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC).

"I resigned as a part-time member of PMEAC on December 1," he said in a Twitter post.

He broke the news a day after Urjit Patel's unexpected resignation, as the RBI governor amid a standoff with the government over a range of issues.

The Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister (EAC-PM) is an independent body constituted to give advice on economic and related issues to the government. The council was constituted in September last year.

The six-member council is headed by Bibek Debroy. It has four part-time members and a member secretary in Ratan P Watal, a former bureaucrat.

A PMO spokesman said the Prime Minister has accepted Bhalla's resignation.

In an another tweet, Bhalla said, "...As I explained in my 6.30 am tweet I resigned from the PMEAC and the reasons were also given--consultancy with CNN IBN and work on a book about Indian elections since 1952 and my resignation was effective Dec 1 when I joined CNN IBN."

Bhalla, who appeared to be usually supportive of the government policies, in a newspaper column on December 1 raised questions about the involvement of Niti Aayog in releasing the so-called back-series GDP data.

"I, along with others, also found it inappropriate for Niti Aayog to be directly involved in the presentation of statistical data by the CSO (central statistical organisation)," he wrote in the December 1 article.

In the article, he, however, supported lowering the GDP growth during the UPA period.

Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar was alongside Pravin Srivastava, chief statistician of India, when the CSO on November 28 released the revised GDP growth rates for the 2006 to 2012 period on grounds that data was recalibrated to reflect a more accurate picture of the economy.

The terms of reference of EAC-PM include analysing any issue referred to it by the Prime Minister. It also addresses issues of macroeconomic importance.

The six-member Council consists, other than Debroym Ratan P Watal (member secretary), Rathin Roy (part-time member), Ashima Goyal (part-time member) and Shamika Ravi (part-time member).

Previously, Bhalla has taught at the Delhi School of Economics and was executive director of the Policy Group in New Delhi, the country's first non-government funded think tank.

He is the author of several academic articles as well as three books on globalisation and its effects on the world economy.