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Govt invites Jagdish Bhagwati to discuss agenda for next 5 yrs

Move assumes significance in light of Bhagwati's statement that he would refuse to vote for Rahul Gandhi or Narendra Modi in 2014 polls

Jagdish Bhagwati
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Eminent economist Jagdish Bhagwati, who hit the headlines after lauding Gujarat Chief Minister for economic growth and entered into a public spat with Nobel laureate Amartya Sen, will now decide the “agenda for the next five years” with the government.

Bhagwati, along with Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor C Rangarajan and Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan, will be speaking on financial sector reforms at the Delhi Economics Conclave, to be organised by the finance ministry , in the capital next month.

The theme of the conclave, to be held on December 11-12, is The Agenda for Next Five Years. Finance Minister P Chidambaram will inaugurate the event which will also be attended by Deputy Chairman Monetk Singh Ahluwalia, other UPA ministers and Oscar Fernandes, and the corporate sector and the banking industry, besides some other leading economists.

The presence of Bhagwati, who had reportedly declined to be a part of the Conclave last year, evokes interests in the light of his statement few months ago that he would not vote for Vice President or Modi if they were the Prime Ministerial candidates in next year’s elections.

The Columbia University professor, however, had admitted that Gujarat, under Modi, had shown rapid growth on major social indicators. Amartya Sen, on the other hand, had said as an Indian citizen he did not want Modi as his prime minister because the latter had not done enough to make minorities feel safe.

“If Sen is bashing Modi purely on the basis of his prejudices, that is his privilege. But it also betrays lack of integrity and judgement. I have no doubt the UPA leaders, all of whom I know well, will be astonished by Sen’s declarations,” Bhagwati had said in an interview to this paper in July.

Later, the finance minister had come out saying that as far as growth is concerned, both the Bhagwati and Sen models were needed as there was need for combining “passion for growth with compassion for poor”.

The Delhi Economics Conclave will also have a session on ‘Growth, Agriculture, Food Security and Inclusiveness: Challenges’.

State Bank of India chairperson Arundhati Bhattacharya will be present here with Ruth Kattumuri of the London School of Economics and Ashok Gulati, Chairman of the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices.

Nathan Nunn and Gita Gopinath of Harvard University, former Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Virmani, L&T Executive Chairman AM Naik, former RBI Governor Bimal Jalan, Competition Commission of India Chairman Ashok Chawla, Yes Bank Managing Director Rana Kapoor, and Mindtree co-founder Subroto Bagchi will also speak at the Conclave on issues ranging from trade and finance to industry and services.

At a cultural evening, eminent classical dancer Sonal Mansingh will give these thinkers a break from economics.   This is the last Conclave before the general elections.

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