NITI Aayog’s search for home-grown economists has compelled it to turn to its original cadre of officers from the Indian Economic Service (IES).

“It (NITI Aayog) is facing difficulties in getting good professional economists, who are aware of the country’s socio-economic structure and can help in grassroots issues. Getting back IES officers, who are already familiar with such development and planning work for the government, is being seen as a good option,” said a source familiar with the development.


The government think-tank has sought re-deployment of officials from the IES to work as economists and help in policy making. However, IES cadre may not be easily swayed, as in January this year, NITI Aayog had surrendered 56 positions of IES officers, who were then deployed in various Ministries.

Many IES officers embraced the ministerial deployments, since they felt they could contribute more in such roles and rise higher than in the IES, which has just five Secretary-level positions.

Besides, NITI Aayog had also appointed seven private professionals as Officers on Special Duty and short-listed 46 candidates to work as Young Professionals.

The Finance Ministry, which is the cadre-controlling authority, has asked NITI Aayog to specify its requirements.

“The general idea behind the move by NITI Aayog was to get specialists and not macro-economists or generalists from the IES cadre,” said another person familiar with the development.

NITI Aayog was looking to hire people similar to the stature of Montek Singh Ahluwalia, former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman, or Rakesh Mohan, who originally joined as a consultant, worked in the development policy division, and went on to become a deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India.

Set up in 1961, the IES was envisioned to help design development policies and undertake economic analysis. It has an authorised strength of 512 officials and just about 15 candidates are selected annually.