#Essential Reads | Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi–Jaitley Economy by Arvind Subramanian

Editor | Non-fiction

For nearly four years, Arvind Subramanian stood at the centre of economic policymaking in India. Through the communication of big ideas and the publication of accessible Economic Surveys, he gained a reputation as an innovator. Through honest pronouncements that avoided spin, he became a figure of public trust. Subramanian charted a course through public life, and sought to convey the complexity of harnessing economic activity for the good of the nation as a whole. It is widely believed that he transformed the role of the Chief Economic Adviser (CEA). What does it entail to serve at the helm of the world’s fastest-growing economy, where decision-making affects a population of more than a billion people?

In Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi–Jaitley Economy, Arvind Subramanian provides an inside account of his rollercoaster journey as the CEA to the Government of India from 2014 to 2018. With an illustrious cast of characters, Subramanian’s part-memoir, part-analytical writings candidly reveal the numerous triumphs and challenges of policymaking at the zenith, while appraising India’s economic potential through comprehensive research and original hypotheses. This book is a deep-dive into the man, the moments, the measures and the means.

Charged with the task of restructuring an insecure and fragile economy, Subramanian’s trusteeship saw the country through one of the most hotly contested and turbulent periods of economic governance and policymaking in recent decades—from the controversial recall of 85 per cent of circulated currency during demonetization to a complete overhaul in taxation with the introduction of the GST. Subramanian also addresses the overleveraging of public-sector banks, the fraught links between the state and private sector (‘stigmatized capitalism’), the changing relationship between the state and the individual, and the ever-pervasive, life-threatening issues surrounding climate change.

In Of Counsel: The Challenges of the Modi–Jaitley Economy, Subramanian opens up about his tenure and critically expands on his previous articles and essays.

Professor Dani Rodrik, of Harvard University, calling Arvind Subramanian ‘that rare intellectual, a deep thinker who is equally at ease in the worlds of abstract economic theory, literary allusion, and everyday economic policy’, says that, ‘Readers of this volume are in for a real treat.’

Arvind Subramanian says, ‘I am excited to share my thinking on India and my experience as CEA—a sort of first draft of history—with a wide readership, hopefully as wide as that of the last few Economic Surveys.’

Meru Gokhale, Editor-in-Chief, Literary Publishing, Penguin Random House India says: ‘In his work on changing balances in global power, as well as in his position as the Chief Economic Advisor to the Government of India, Dr Subramanian had a ringside view of the economy— and indeed the state of the nation. Much has happened in this country in recent times that many of us grapple with in our everyday transactions. From demonetization to GST, from the budget to tax reforms, this is the book that we need to read if we are to understand our own place as citizens in the economy.’

About the author:

Arvind Subramanian is currently a visiting lecturer of public policy at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, having served as an economist at the IMF as well as a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, DC. He is the author of several books, including Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance, India’s Turn: Understanding the Economic Transformation, among others. In 2011, Foreign Policy magazine named him as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.

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