Ashok Gulati, chairman of the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP), will relinquish office at the end of this month, after completing a three-year tenure.
Gulati joined CACP on March 1, 2011. Before doing so, he was a director, in Asia, of the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) since 2006. Before that, from January 2001, he was director of the markets, trade and institutions division in the same institute. A known name in agriculture economics, Gulati’s three-year stint as CACP chairman saw many changes in the almost five-decade-old body. He recommended hefty increases in the minimum support price (MSP) of pulses and oilseeds, to expand their cultivation and lessen import. Taking over when India battled rising food inflation, Gulati ensured MSPs were in sync with the rising cost of production in the farm sector, without being a hefty burden on the exchequer.
He also gradually lowered the MSPs of wheat and rice in view of their bulging stocks and diminishing export competitiveness. “MSPs should not just be aimed at providing a better price to farmers but also to ensure that demand-supply dynamics in the market is maintained,” Gulati said.
Also read: Lunch with BS: Ashok Gulati
He also made a zero-rise recommended in the wheat MSP for the 2013-14 season, due to bulging stocks and lower MSPs of competing crops. This was, however, finally overruled by the Union cabinet. Known for his forthright views on matters concerning agriculture and food, his discussion paper on the National Food Security Act which laid out the fiscal and logistical challenges of the mammoth social security initiative generated much debate within power circles.
Prior to joining IFPRI in 2001, Gulati was a Nabard Chair Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, and chief economist at the National Council of Applied Economic Research. He was also a member of the economic advisory council to the Prime Minister and a member of the Planning Board of Karnataka. He did his master’s degree and his doctorate (on agricultural prices) from the Delhi School of Economics.