Appointment of Sanjeev Sanyal as Principal Economic Adviser in Ministry of Finance

Economist and Writer Sanjeev Sanyal


My all-time favorite economist and writer Sanjeev Sanyal is appointed as Principal Economic Adviser in Ministry of Finance.

First question that comes to everyone’s mind, who is Sanjeev Sanyal.

He was Managing Director and Global Strategist at Deutsche Bank till 2015. He was named Young Global Leader for 2010 by WEF Davos. He has also authored five books on Indian geographic history. In his own words, he is an economist turned historian.

As per Wikipedia:

Sanjeev Sanyal is an Indian economist, bestselling writer, environmentalist, and urban theorist. He is widely regarded as one of Asia’s leading economists and was Deutsche Bank’s Global Strategist and a Managing Director till 2015. He is also a member of the Future City Committee of the Singapore government that is creating a long term vision for the city-state.

Some of his views:

Indian History: Sanjeev is a staunch critic of the version of Indian history written in our text books. As per him, most of the history that we read is written from the view point of British Colonizers, Invaders and Political Ruling Class. Some of the most fascinating historic events that have significant impact on our lives till date are completely ignored.

Some of the noteworthy disagreements that he has with the main stream historians are:

  1. Ashoka was not a great emperor and never turned into a pacifist. He was a mass murderer, fanatic and interventionist. He chose Buddhism for political reasons at a very young age and not after the great battle of Kalinga.
  2. Ancient Aryan invasion of India is a hoax, there is no connection between Indians and Aryans
  3. Text book history completely ignores important battles that Indians won and we have overlooked many great Indian Generals and Emperors who have altered the course of our history

Recent views on macroeconomic policies:

  1. Demonetization: As a policy demonetization has two aspects economic and political.
    1. Economic aspect: no economist is in a position to judge at this point. As there is no theory or empirical analysis to understand this. Impact is positive or negative, we will get to know over next few years.
    2. Political Aspect: It is message to the country by the prime minister that old ways of doing things have to change i.e. there is no status quo anymore and country should come out of low level of inertia. This is similar to Lee Kuan Yew’s raising fines exponentially for petty public demeanors like littering etc., in Singapore, here also the idea was to tell the population that old way of doing things need to change
  2. Donald Trump: Trump may, as per poll promise, invest in US infrastructure that will not only address his core constituency the white working class but also is aligned to consensus economists view, which has recently shifted towards this investment driven growth. However, unintended consequences are going to be:
    1. Increase in wages as at current almost full level of employment further increase in demand for labour will lead to both increase in wages and outsourcing of work to cheaper destinations
    2. Increase in imports which will help the world economy
    3. Increase imbalance for America as it will increase the current account deficit and further rise in debt to GDP

Family History (Courtesy Wikipedia):

Sanyal comes from a family that played an important role in India’s Freedom Struggle against British colonial rule. His great grandfather Nalinaksha Sanyal was the Chief Whip of the Congress Party in the provincial assembly of undivided Bengal and a vocal opponent of colonial policies during the Bengal Famine of 1942. His granduncle was Sachindra Nath Sanyal who was one of founders of the revolutionary movement and a mentor to revolutionaries like Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad.

Sanjeev Sanyal was born in Kolkata and studied at St.Xavier’s School and St.James’ School. He attended Shri Ram College of Commerce, Delhi University and St John’s College, Oxford where he was a Rhodes Scholar representing India (1992–1995). He is from the same class as Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, and Cory Booker, the Democratic Senator from New Jersey.

My Take:

First of all, please don’t get an impression that he is some conspiracy theorist. He is one of the finest mind around, recognized throughout the world.

To my mind, he is one of best high profile recruits by Indian govt. in recent past. Man is of the similar caliber, if not higher, as likes of Raghuram Rajan, Nandan Nilekani and Arvind Subramanian.

I I have been following his work and I am amazed with his analysis, economic, political and social vision. The world, and more so India needs great free thinkers like him, who question the status quo and look at everything around with a rationale mind.

He is also a very strong critic of Nehru Gandhi family and perhaps that is why he never got this or a similar assignment with India government in the past and perhaps that is why he is getting this assignment now. Nonetheless, he is more than qualified for this job.

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