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Would Niti Ayog position for chief economist welcome woman leadership?


Prof Mansee Bal Bhargava, entrepreneur, researcher and educator, who is with the SaciWATERS, Hyderabad, and is Environmental Design Consultant, Ahmedabad, has written an open letter to Niti Ayog and PMO insisting, “We need a chief strategist and not chief economist for the ‘Niti’ Ayog in its true meaning and to realign India’s growth”:
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I’m writing with great passion regarding professional concerns over the vacancy position of chief economist cum sr lead at Niti Ayog which is also published now in regular news.
My concerns are two-folds with a concluding remark more as a suggestion:
Qualification sought for the Position: It is worrying that the qualification asked is biased asking for a PhD in Economics. Planning is not about Economics alone! We have seen over the decades since the inception of the predecessor of Niti Ayog, the Planning Commission, that doing only Economics has not brought us to a good state of Economy rather Development.
Therefore, here is a chance to Rethink! The position should rather call for a person with a qualification of Multi-Trans-Disciplinary Background (with a PhD) who has a Vision and Mission to Take India to a Right Path of Development, which at this moment should be GREEN GROWTH-DEVELOPMENT which India too is a signatory as an International Agenda and that needs to be reflected on national policies and on ground activities.
The person then a ‘Chief’ sought must have a Complex Thinking Approach unlike a Linear Thinking Economic Approach, so that the Country can be directed towards optimising (not maximising) its resources while including the human and bio-diversity wellbeing besides ensuring security for the future generation and environment.
Let the Vision-Mission of a Healthy and Happy State be the Goal of the nation-state and let the Economy be a Strategy to achieve so. As a Thinker-Visionary, you may agree that the Economy as the Goal for decades now has not succeeded in providing a healthy and happy society a. A lot of things are changing in the country at this moment, so turning the goal around should also be Discussed and a Choice for once since the Independence of India.
Gender in the Position: I like to start with congratulating Niti Ayog for making the call for the position a Gender Neutral thing to Chief Economist. The Chief Executive Officer also sounds a Gender Neutral position. I like to bring to your notice the position of Deputy ChairMAN. The Deputy ChairMAN position of the Planning Commission from the first, Gulzarilal Nanda, to the last, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, has been bestowed to MEN only for the reasons best known to the late Planning Commission.
NO WOMAN has had the opportunity to lead, among the 24 ChairMEN of the Planning Commission spanning from 1950-2014, the most important organisation of the country that is Charting a Path for its Development-Growth. Ironically, a similar pattern also seems to be prevailing in the Vice-ChairMAN and CEO of Niti Ayog so far. The word -MAN is the problem here as the recruitments and peoples psychology too have been manly. So, not only the nomenclature of the Vice-ChairMAN needs changing to something more gender inclusive, the appointment also requires to reflect that gender parity.
Mansee Bal Bhargava
I’ll be surprised if Women are not claiming Candidature. Since, India produces a substantial number of highly qualified Women Thinkers and Visionaries even after the massive brain drain we suffer. I shall refrain from naming any women for the position to respect all gender and at the same time claim thyself to be also competitive for the position. Meanwhile, there are ample examples all over the world now to justify that women leadership is crucial for economic revival, overall wellbeing and even health issues like addressing corona. I shall remain hopeful that Indian institutions like NitiAyog, Supreme Court, RBI, ED, EC, Defense, etc., show the gender parity in leadership positions sometime in my lifetime.
Combining the above two aspects, here I conclude with a suggestion and request that Niti Ayog and PMO call especially for more Women Visionaries with Multi-Trans-Disciplinary Background (with a PhD) for the position of Chief (not Economist but something else like Strategist) of Niti Ayog. I’m aware that by concluding with a gender biased suggestion is likely to weaken the above arguments. The matter of fact is that Women by default are complex thinkers and have more empathy towards the environment besides valuing cooperation over conflict which have made them better and progressive leaders since history till date. Such position requires a person who knows Economics indeed but importantly has a knack for Ecology and Empathy.
I’ll not be shocked but saddened if the concerns are interpreted from feminist perspective.
As we all know that the NitiAyog and PMO have long been masculine which is seen as Normal in the Highly Patriarchal and Hierarchical society that we live.
NitiAyog renaming itself from the Planning Commission is a good time also to redefine the vision-mission of NitiAyog, which can be done better by gendered leadership change into Woman Chief. Time to Try for a New Normal!
I shall be keen to know if the ‘Chief’ position is still calling for applications.
I shall be also keen to know how the NitiAyog plans to convey in the announcement that the position welcomes Women Leadership.
Thank you.
Sincerely, Jai Hind!

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