Thursday, February 01, 2007

Business Standard on this year's National Awards

Nothing clever or out of the ordinary, but it highlights an interesting trend (together with a short profile of Prof. Raja Chelliah):

What distinguishes this year’s list is the indelible stamp of the Prime Minister himself—many economists and academics have made it to the list, signalling that devotion to academic excellence is finally being rewarded. At the top of the list, among those who have been given the highest Padma award (the Padma Vibhushan) is Raja Chelliah, who is recognised by most informed observers as the principal architect of India’s tax reforms, beginning with his work for the Jha committee on indirect taxes in 1978, following it with his taxation reform reports in the early 1990s, and culminating in his serving as an advisor to the finance minister for Budget formulation. It is testimony to Dr Chelliah’s foresight and detailed work that finance ministers from the mid-1980s have relied on his work to set the broad direction of tax reform. It also speaks of Dr Chelliah’s commitment to the country that, at a time when many other leading economists chose to wander off to other shores or greener pastures, he chose to come back from the International Monetary Fund in 1976 and set up the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. The country should rightly be grateful to Dr Chelliah for giving it a sensible tax system, far removed from the abominations of the 1960s and 1970s.