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Can NRI Economists give advice differently?


Which country in the world can boast of a diaspora of around 4 million in USA?

And, which country in the world has as many Non - Resident Economic Advisers as India, mostly in USA?

Kaushik Basu, Rakesh Mohan, Raghuram Rajan, Arvind Subramanian, Pranab Bardhan, Gita Gopinath, Abhijit Banerjee and how many more?

And, they are constantly in the media, rather than giving their ideas privately to the Government. The media, of course, laps it all up. And, they feed on each other.

Is the government devoid of people who have data, can analyse and chart out courses of action? Is it fair to underestimate the people in government? Their capability, their knowledge, their perspective? Does this border on the offensive on the part of our diaspora Economists?

If it is not about getting personal publicity, would these thought leaders take time out to send their suggestions to our leadership? Not through the media but directly and quietly? That would show them in a very different light. And, if their ideas are not found acceptable, will their egos be hurt, bruised, disturbed?

As a postscript, would it not be really nice if our nonresident Economists became resident in India, working in an Indian University? Living in this real world of India, experiencing it 24X7, contributing ideas, sharing thoughts on the spot instead of belonging to the offshore variety— that would be so welcome. Not just to be in positions of power in government but outside the Government, like ordinary people. Perhaps, their ideas would find greater resonance and respect.

This is not meant to show disrespect to the non-resident Economists. This is only to ask them to think of others working daily to deal with the many aspects and dimensions of the current crisis. To be concerned is welcome. To share ideas even more so. But, can this be done out of media attention? Is it necessary to fill up column space in the print media and TV time?

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©2020 by Tarun Das and Ishan Roy.