A search committee headed by NITI Aayog deputy chairman Arvind Panagariya to find a replacement for Pronab Sen, chairman of the National Statistical Commission (NSC), who retired last month, has recommended three names to Prime Minister Narendra Modi—Ashok Lahiri, R.B. Barman and Ravindra Dholakia.

The post of NSC chairman is a part-time post, but holds immense importance at a time when the new series of gross domestic product (GDP) remains controversial. The NSC is mandated to evolve national policies and priorities relating to the statistical system, monitor and review the functioning of the statistical system in the light of laid down policies and recommend measures for enhanced performance and, above all, evolve measures for improving public trust in official statistics.

The chairman is usually an eminent statistician or social scientist with a minimum age of 55 years and is appointed for a period of three years for only one term. The chairperson of the commission has the status of a minister of state in the government and the four members have the status of a secretary to the government.

Lahiri was chief economic adviser in the finance ministry during 2002-07 and later served as India’s executive director at the Asian Development Bank. He was also a visiting faculty member at the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, in 1978-80. Currently, Lahiri is serving as chairman of Bandhan Bank.

Barman is a former executive director at the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and holds a master’s degree in statistics and a PhD in economics. He was the vice-chairman of the Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics, Bank for International Settlements, and member of the International Data Forum. Currently, he is adjunct faculty at the C.R. Rao Advanced Institute for Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Hyderabad. “Dr Barman contributed richly in the area of Official Statistics, particularly on price and output statistics," according to the National Payments Corporation of India website, where he serves as a technology adviser.

Dholakia is an economics professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, with 38 years of experience in the field. He chaired a committee on cost saving and resource use optimization in Air India, appointed by the civil aviation ministry in 2013. He was a member of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (2006-08), the Public Expenditure Management Committee (2009-10) and was on the committee on Savings and Investment Estimation (January 2008-March 2009), appointed by the centre.

Earlier chairmen of the commission include former RBI governor C. Rangarajan, eminent economist Suresh Tendulkar and Madras Institute of Development Studies chairperson R. Radhakrishna.

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