NL Interview: Ex-finance secy on policies, govt’s misadventures, ‘feisty’ Sitharaman

The bureaucrat shares an insider’s view of the finance ministry’s workings between 2017 and 2019.

WrittenBy:Shivnarayan Rajpurohit
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Former bureaucrat Subhash Chandra Garg’s new book We Also Make Policy unpacks the behind-the-scenes of India’s finance ministry — from policy matters to the ministers’ temperaments and even Garg’s equation with them.       

In this interview with Shivnarayan Rajpurohit, the former economic affairs and finance secretary shares his insider’s view on Arun Jaitley, Piyush Goyal and Nirmala Sitharaman, whom he worked with between 2017 and 2019. 

Garg says Jaitley was “cordial”, even though he did not “always agree”. On the other hand, he asserts that Goyal’s understanding of the economic sector was “the best”, but the minister “was not respectful” towards others. He also gives a peek into his tumultuous association with Sitharaman, whom he describes as “combative and feisty”.  

Garg calls demonetisation a “misadventure”, although he defended the Modi government’s controversial move in 2017. On farm laws, he says there was a “lack of consultation” with the states. 

In this no-holds-barred interaction, the former bureaucrat dwells on the reasons for his early exit from the ministry, the transparency, or lack thereof, in contracts awarded to Adani firms, electoral bonds, and the PMO’s involvement in the day-to-day affairs of the ministries. He also sheds light on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unhappiness with one former RBI governor. 


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