Economist Surjit Bhalla on Tuesday said on Tuesday he had resigned as a part-time member of the Economic Advisory Council to the prime minister on December 1. He made the announcement on Twitter while sharing his latest column for The Indian Express.
His column on Tuesday was written in the capacity of a contributing editor for the newspaper and a consultant with Network18 Group. “I resigned as part-time member PMEAC [Prime Minister Economic Advisory Council] on December 1st,” he said.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister’s Office told PTI that Bhalla’s resignation had been accepted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “In his request he had stated that he would be joining some other organisation,” the spokesperson said.
Bhalla’s regular column for The Indian Express, called “No Proof Required”, generally identifies him as a member of the council, but Tuesday’s column did not. In his column on December 1, Bhalla, who is usually supportive of the government, wrote: “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 Statistics Office].”
He was apparently referring to data released by the NITI Aayog and the Central Statistics Office on November 28, in which the government revised down the GDP growth rates for the 2006-’12 period, saying it had recalibrated the data to reflect a more accurate picture of the economy. The country was ruled by a Congress-led government during that period.
On Monday, Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel had resigned from his post, citing personal reasons.
The Economic Advisory Council was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2017 in a bid to bring in reforms to the financial system. Economist Dr Bibek Debroy heads the panel, and the other members are Rathin Roy, Ashima Goyal and Ratan Watal.
The decision to form the council had come amid widespread criticism of the government’s Goods and Services Tax regime and the demonetisation drive from November 2016, both of which were blamed for dragging India’s GDP growth down to 5.7% in the first quarter of 2017.