WATCH: 'Competence First, Origin & Loyalty Second', Says Outgoing Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian

Written By Ankit Prasad | Mumbai | Published:


  • Arvind Subramanian has confirmed that he is stepping down as Chief Economic Advisor
  • The announcement was made by Arun Jaitley
  • Subramanian has held a briefing where he summed up his almost 4-year-term and answered some of his critics

Arvind Subramanian addressed the media on Wednesday after stepping down as India's Chief Economic Advisor -- an announcement that was made in a highly complimentary blog post by Union Minister Arun Jaitley.

Summing up his almost 4-year-run in the post, Subramanian said that whether or not he was thought of as a good or "lousy" CEA, he hoped that nobody thought of him as a lazy or inactive CEA.

Subramanian spoke about the various achievements under his tenure, reserving special praise for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which he said he had the privilege of being closely associated with. He opined that the recent numbers on GST revenues were very heartening.

Alongside the GST, he said that the economic surveys tabled by him had been gratifying in terms of elevating the quality of analysis, and listed things such as "mentoring and building capacity in Indian economic services, diagnosing the twin-balance sheet problem public investment strategy, carbon imperialism" as his other achievements.

He stopped short of going through the full list, which Arun Jaitley also wrote about in great detail in his post, and said:

"I should stop before I start sounding like I did more than I actually did."

He said that the first person whom he informed about leaving was the Prime Minister, after first discussing it with Arun Jaitley.

He was asked two questions on similar topics -- namely allegations that have come his way because of his time working abroad before he became CEA (the same was also said about his predecessor Raghuram Rajan) and on the larger topic of bringing in talent from abroad to fill such key roles.

He said, "In public office one has to be prepared to be both forthright and to take the consequences. Whether I've been validated, it's for you to judge."

On importing talent, Subramanian said he had a simple answer:

"I have a very simple answer. I think that for every job you should get the best person."

"It should be competence, competence, competence. I think that's what the government believes in. Provenance, Origin or Loyalty should be secondary."

Subramanian, who is a graduate of two of India's most respected colleges -- St Stephens's Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad -- also completed higher degrees at the University of Oxford. Prior to becoming Chief Economic Advisor, he has worked at the IMF and taught at Harvard and Johns Hopkins university. 

Watch what he had to say in the video above.