Thiruvananthapuram: Gita Gopinath will perhaps be the only neo-liberal economist to associate with the LDF dispensation. The newly-inducted Planning Board members, all seven of them, are known to be aggressively Left.
Three of the appointments – Dr K N Harilal, Mridul Eapen and Dr B Ekbal – were part of the Board during the last LDF tenure. The other four are: T Jayaraman (professor, School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences), R Ramkumar (Dean, School of Development Studies, TISS), Jayan Jose Thomas (associate professor, IIT Delhi), Dr K Ravi Raman (senior fellow, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library).
The profile of the new Board signifies that revival of agriculture will be the dominant concern. At least three of the members, including Board vice chairman V K Ramachandran, have done extensive studies in the field of agriculture. Ramkumar, though one of the youngest economists of repute in the country, is an agriculture economist first. And no one has written about the crisis in the state’s plantation sector as Harilal.
Jayaraman will be the environment expert in the panel. Ramkumar and Jayaram, incidentally, are the leading lights of the ‘Mumbai Collective’ that has been formed to intellectually fight back the Centre’s moves to usurp the autonomy of educational institutions. Dr Ekbal will be tasked with evolving a public health policy. Gender issues will be dealt with by Mridul Eapen. Jayan Jose Thomas will look into labour issues, a key concern of the Left, and Ravi Raman will provide the Board the necessary scientific temper.