Economist Shaibal Gupta, who represented Bihar as a member of the Raghuram Rajan committee, said in Patna on Sunday that the note of dissent only raised technicalities and did not dismiss the panel report.
“The note of dissent was only a technical critique. If the dissenting points were incorporated, it would have been a better report, but that does not mean we are dismissing the report. We welcome the panel report which opens the door for Bihar to be entitled to maximum financial devolution. Both the report and the note have to be seen in a positive light. We were not politically driven. We worked as economists,” Mr. Gupta told a press conference in Patna.
Based on the dissent note, the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had challenged the view that Bihar would gain from the revised framework of backwardness.
The note, said Mr. Gupta, merely advised different variables, than the ones considered by the panel. For instance, the variable of per capita income should have been considered instead of monthly per capita consumption. Other variables, such as health, infant mortality, education, female literacy and per capita electricity connectivity, availability and consumption should have been taken into account.
“We put our critique on record so that their cognisance is taken for course correction when future criteria are framed. The panel has said that the variable will change every five years,” he said. Special category status was not in the terms of reference of the Rajan panel. The body received a note from the Finance Ministry that the category had been subsumed.
The most important contribution of the report was to devise a development index based on performance and need. In this respect Bihar stood to gain the most and could even be entitled for tax breaks, Mr. Gupta said.
Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has hailed the report as “an ideological victory,” while the BJP has criticised the document as “a lame duck report.”