NCAER hosted its marquee event, the India Policy Forum (IPF) from July 12 through to July 15, 2021. As in 2020, the IPF 2021 Conference was hosted virtually. The IPF is the leading economic policy event in the summer season of Delhi, featuring a galaxy of eminent policymakers, and economists and academics worldwide working on India. The IPF, now in its 18th year, promotes rigorous empirical research on Indian economic policy through commissioned papers presented at the conference. These papers are discussed by leading researchers and top Indian policymakers, and then edited and published in the annual India Policy Forum volume.
With the country facing unprecedented health and economic challenges, the high-calibre discussions during IPF’s 18th edition focused on the key economic challenges facing India and policies needed to guide the nation out of the grim and far-reaching impact that the pandemic has had on both lives and livelihoods. The IPF 2021 was attended by over 40 presenters, discussants, and panellists, deliberating on four IPF research papers, as well as two lectures, and two Roundtable events focusing on pressing issues. The Conference thus brought together policymakers, experts, researchers, and academics from all over the world. Former RBI Governor, Dr Raghuram Rajan, and former Chief Economic Adviser, Dr Arvind Subramanian, were among the Chairs of the paper presentation sessions.
The welcome remarks at the Conference were delivered by Dr Surjit Bhalla, Executive Director, IMF and Governing Body member. Among the highlights of the event was the first policy roundtable, moderated by Dr K P Krishnan, IEPF Chair Professor at NCAER, and former Union Secretary in the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship. The participants at this roundtable, which discussed the future of economic reforms, included the current Finance Secretary, Dr T.V. Somanathan, and three former Finance Secretaries, including Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Dr Vijay Kelkar, and Mr Ashok Chawla. While expressing his views on crucial issues such as reforms, deficit monetisation, protectionism, the banking sector, and health insurance, Dr T.V. Somanathan said, “What may seem impossible at one time may become feasible later. Bad ideas don’t necessarily drive out the good and the good ideas keep surviving and coming back from time to time”. He also mentioned that GST systems had been tightened and improved, which would lead to an increase in revenue in the near future.
The second roundtable at the event, on “Emerging from the Long Shadow of COVID”, which was moderated by Dr Sonalde Desai, Distinguished Professor at University of Maryland & Professor NCAER, brought to the fore the issues of reopening schools during the pandemic and its impact on various sections of society.
Earlier, Dr Shanta Devarajan, who has had a long innings at the World Bank, delivered the 3rd T N Srinivasan Memorial Lecture on “Responding to COVID-19 amidst Market and Government Failures”. This session was chaired by Rukmini Banerji of the Pratham Education Foundation.
The IPF concluded with a seminal lecture on ‘Federalism during the Pandemic”, which was chaired by Dr Arvind Panagariya. Mr Singh commenced his lecture by commending NCAER for conducting the IPF as “an exceedingly cohesive event in short time”. Congratulating the new Director General, Dr Poonam Gupta on her assumption of office on 1 July 2021, he stated, “We look forward to her able stewardship and guidance in steering NCAER to new heights.”