New Delhi: US-based economist Arvind Subramanian on Thursday took charge as chief economic adviser in the finance ministry, two months after finance minister Arun Jaitley recommended his name to the Prime Minister’s office.

“It is an absolute honour and privilege to come at this time, a time of great hope and dynamism for the Indian economy, to serve in a government that has mandate for reforms and change," Subramanian said at a media briefing.

Before his current assignment, Subramanian served as a senior fellow at Peterson Institute for International Economics as well as at the Center for Global Development, both located in Washington DC. Like Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan, he too has worked at the International Monetary Fund, where he was an assistant director in the research department.

The post of chief economic advisor fell vacant after Rajan was appointed as governor of the central bank in September last year.

On the economic challenges facing the country, Subramanian said on Thursday that he would first like to understand the details of what is going on before pronouncing his views.

“But on the whole I am very very hopeful on the Indian economy," he said. “Of course, there are challenges like anywhere. But there is a sense of hope and dynamism going forward based on the mandate of this government and the promise of the things to come. Good things are ahead for the Indian economy."

Subramanian said for any economy like India, the two important things were macroeconomic stability and creating the conditions for rapid investment and growth while providing opportunities for all segments of Indian society.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had met a few candidates in August and had finalized Subramanian’s appointment.

Specializing in economic growth, international trade and intellectual property rights, Subramanian was involved in the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations in 1988-92, which led to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995.

After India decided to block the trade facilitation agreement (TFA) at WTO, citing a lack of progress in finding a permanent solution to its concerns on public stockholding, Subramanian wrote that India should withdraw its opposition to the pact, reformulate its position on agriculture to persuade others of its merits, and revisit the issue at WTO in the near future.

The facilitation pact was aimed at simplifying customs procedures, facilitating the speedy release of goods from ports and cut transaction costs.

“India looks obstructionist by opposing the TFA, especially for the new government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which is trying to project an image of being investor- and market-friendly and constructive in its international engagement," Subramanian wrote in a blogpost on the website of PIIE on 29 July. “The reputational costs of blocking the TFA could be high."

On the Modi government’s first budget, Subramanian praised its economic vision, but maintained that it lacked substance and failed to spell out policy actions.

“In substance, this was a budget prepared by incumbent bureaucrats, not incoming politicians. It represented continuity—which surprisingly was endorsed by much of the post-budget commentary—when the need of the hour was change," he wrote on 11 July.

Subramanian has also taught at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government (1999-2000) and at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (2008-10).

He has written several books, including India’s Turn: Understanding the Economic Transformation (2008) and Eclipse: Living in the Shadow of China’s Economic Dominance (2011). Foreign Policy magazine named him as one of the world’s top 100 global thinkers in 2011.

Subramanian advised the previous United Progressive Alliance government in different capacities, including as a member of the finance minister’s expert group on the G20 grouping of nations.

Subramanian obtained his undergraduate degree from St Stephens College in Delhi, a postgraduate diploma from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and his MPhil and DPhil from the University of Oxford in the UK.