Noted economist Ila Patnaik has been appointed principal economic advisor in the Union finance ministry.
Her appointment comes at a time when the Centre is working as a caretaker government and the Opposition has approached the Election Commission over appointment of the new Navy chief.
Officials played down the issue, saying Patnaik’s appointment was a routine matter and did not need the Election Commission’s nod.
Patnaik is replacing Dipak Dasgupta who completed his tenure a few months ago. “Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has cleared her name. She will join from May 1 and will hold the office for a period of three years,” an official told Business Standard.
Patnaik, a prolific writer on economic issues, is currently Reserve Bank of India chair professor at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), a government funded think tank.
The file proposing her name was moved a few months ago but only now did the ACC give its approval.
Patnaik will be in the rank of special secretary and, thus, the senior-most in the economic division as the post of chief economic advisor is vacant since Raghuram Rajan left in September 2013. According to sources, Rajan himself had endorsed Patnaik’s name. Notably, she supports the RBI Governor in her writings.
While Dasgupta used to handle agriculture and climate change, there might be some reallocation of work in the economic division as Patnaik is a macro economy expert, officials said.
Prior to joining NIPFP, Patnaik had worked at the National Council of Applied Economic Research and Indian Council for Research in International Economic Relations. She was also a columnist with Business Standard.
The NIPFP website lists Patnaik’s areas of interest as “open economy macroeconomics, including issues related to capital flows, exchange rate regime, monetary policy, business cycles and the financial sector in the context of opening of the capital account”.
Patnaik’s recent papers deal with India's experience with capital flows, methods for testing, dating and monitoring structural change of the exchange rate regime, an examination of the exchange rate regime in India and China, questions of moral hazard in the currency exposure of firms, and explaining the change in home bias against Indian firms.
She is a PhD in economics from the University of Surrey, UK, and an M Phil in economics from the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, JawaharlalNehruUniversity.