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DH Pai Panandiker, the economic adviser who batted for Raghuram Rajan’s appointment as CEA

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D.H. Pai Panandiker, noted economist and former secretary general of Ficci, passed away Monday.

When D.H. Pai Panandiker’s friends and former colleagues meet on Friday evening to mourn his passing, they will remember him as an extremely warm and soft spoken person.

Panandiker, a noted economist and former secretary general of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), passed away in New Delhi Monday. He was 86 and is survived by a son and a daughter.

He was associated with the industry body for a decade between 1981 and 1991. After quitting Ficci, Panandiker was associated as an adviser to the RPG Group. He also served on boards of several educational institutes.


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Keen observer of economy

In 2012, Panandiker had batted for Raghuram Rajan to succeed Cornell University professor Kaushik Basu as chief economic adviser (CEA) to the Indian government.

At the time, two names were doing the rounds for the post of CEA — Rajan and Ajay Chibber, who was serving as assistant secretary-general of the United Nations Development Programme — but the outspoken Panandiker said Rajan had a wider view of the economy and his opinions as CEA “would be invaluable”.

Rajan was appointed the same year.

A keen observer of the economy, he regularly advised the government on various issues.
After the demonetisation exercise in 2016, Panandiker said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was partly to be blamed for the slowdown in growth rate.

In its obituary, Business Standard wrote that Panandiker lauded the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act in 2004 and opined that finance ministers will be mandated to adhere to the targets laid down, a move that will maintain some balance in the budgets.

Panandiker did not adhere to the theories of fiscal puritanism, said the obituary.

“In 2012, when it was almost certain that the government will breach the 2012-13 fiscal deficit target, he wrote that in abnormal times, abnormal measures are required to get back to normalcy. He said a high fiscal deficit will not revive inflation but generate additional demand necessary to pull up the economy,” the newspaper said.

As Ficci secretary general, he voiced issues relating to the industry.

“It was not easy for him at that time, when the overall focus was on the industry and businesses,” said a chamber insider.

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