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An informal presentation - analytical, forward locking...

“It was Eureka moment for me: if you look at the Centre and states’ finances as a whole, there is almost a 0.5 per cent increase in GDP growth thanks to the combined efforts of the states and the Centre in stepping up capital expenditure by around Rs 150,000 crore. There is more consolidation of macro- economic factors by the states than by the Centre,” said Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA).
Addressing a packed audience at the Madras School of Economics (MSE) organised by the Southern India Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Subramanian expressed confidence on accelerated growth of the economy and even forecast a 8.5 per cent growth during this year and the next. He attributed this to three favourable factors: one,  oil prices have come down; two, firms are registering profits; and three, monetary easing had begun. 
A MSE student raised an interesting question: whether the CEA was making an honest professional assessment as an economist or is constrained by selling a favourable, government point of view. Subramanian admitted to the compulsions of both! 
Chennai rarely gets to hear a CEA on the state of the economy. Thanks to Dr C Rangarajan, Chairman, MSE, such an opportunity was provided. Subramanian spoke on several of the basic features of the Economic Survey prepared by him and his team mates and described this  as analytical, forward looking and descriptive of the economic situation.  The CEA held that big bang reforms are not applicable to India because ‘world history told us that such reforms happen only around crisis.’ These are not easy to happen in democracies: “we have multiple decision making centres and multiple veto centres. It is very difficult to push through dramatic changes. India, at this juncture, is not in a crisis. Compared to July 2013 we have come out of macro-economic crisis. Since then, inflation has come down, current account deficit improved and stock prices have gone up. There are some signs of revival of growth. India has become an attractive destination for investments in international context,” said Subramanian. 
The informal, American style presentation from the young economist was relished by the audience. The CEA also responded to several questions raised, especially by the students of MSE. 
I have been suggesting policymakers in Delhi, especially senior bureaucrats, to visit state capitals and explain the nuances of economic policy. After the expansion of the national news television, this had dried up. 
For long, we never had a CEA from the south. Though Raghuram Rajan donned this for a while, his tenure was short. Subramanian has made an interesting good 
beginning in explaining policy at the MSE. Hopefully the TN Global investors’ Meet will present more such 
policymakers to address on current and emerging economic issues.

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