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Exclusive: Responsive Governance Special Virtual Session

Wednesday, 12 August 2020 ADD TO CALENDAR

11:00 AM To 12:30 PM

Session: Atmanirbharta in India’s States: Stressed Government Finances and Long-term Implications
When: 12  August 2020
Format: Moderated discussion


How: Webinar on Zoom
Duration: 1.5 hours 



  • Arvind Mayaram, Vice Chairman, Rajasthan Economic Transformation Advisory Council and Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan, and Former Finance Secretary, Government of India
  • Himani Baxi, Assistant Professor, Ahmedabad University
  • D Vijay Kumar, Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya and Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Planning, Finance, Tourism, Sports and Youth Affairs, etc.
  • Moderated by Avani Kapur, Director of Accountability Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research



The Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown have placed a significant fiscal burden on the Indian economy, which are likely to have long-term repercussions. But, India’s public finances were in a precarious position even prior to the pandemic. 

A recent study by the Accountability Initiative revealed that factors such as the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax regime, UDAY (electricity distribution companies revival scheme), and an increase in States share for the Union government’s Centrally Sponsored Schemes, had already severely constrained the States’ revenues. As a response to mitigate the immediate effects of the pandemic, the Union government announced a range of financial relief measures. Among them is the Rs 20 lakh crore Atmanirbhar Bharat package wherein the government is providing free foodgrains to the poor, cash to poor women and elderly, incentives to small-scale industries, amongst others.

The pandemic has laid bare faultlines in India’s fiscal federal architecture in which the purse strings are held by the Union and majority spenders are the States. An illustration has been the demand made by States for greater autonomy in borrowing limits and expenditure decisions, and more funds transferred directly to them.

It is against this backdrop that the Accountability Initiative is holding a webinar to delve on four important questions on the fiscal response of State and Union governments in dealing with the pandemic. These are:

  • What lessons can be learnt from past trends in State finances? 
  • What are the adaptation strategies used by different States to ensure adequate fiscal space?
  • What can a medium to long term fiscal package to stimulate the economy look like?
  • How should the Union government generate finances and ensure adequate resources to States? 

About the Speakers: 

Dr Arvind Mayaram is Vice Chairman, Rajasthan Economic Transformation Advisory Council and Economic Adviser to the Chief Minister of Rajasthan. He is also Chairman, CUTS Institute for Regulation and Competition. He has earlier held the positions of Finance Secretary, Government of India, and Secretary, Special Secretary in the Ministry of Rural Development. He sat on the Boards of the Reserve Bank of India and the Securities Exchanges Board of India.

Dr Mayaram has extensive international experience including Alternate Governor for India on the Boards of the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank.

He has been instrumental in several major initiatives on investment, infrastructure development, Public Private Partnerships and institution building.

Dr Himani Baxi is an Assistant Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Ahmedabad University. Her areas of interest are Public Finance and Public Policy. She has been extensively working in the areas of state finances, and particularly on Gujarat state finance issues. She has carried out a research study for the 15th and 14th finance commissions, Government of India, and has submitted a report on the outcome evaluation of Gujarat state finances to both the finance commissions.

Her recent research and publication work titled “Social Expenditure and Human Development in Gujarat” was published in the Economic Political Weekly in 2019.

Dr D Vijay Kumar has been a member of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) since 2004. He is currently the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya in the Planning, Finance, Tourism, Sports and Youth Affairs and Cooperation departments, besides the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.

He has a PhD in Economics and Public Policy from the University of Oxford. His DPhil was in the field of economics of education wherein he evaluated the impact of India’s national school choice policy on children’s outcomes, and investigated related questions central to the theoretical and empirical debates on school choice in developing countries.


The schedule is as follows:

  • 11.00-11.20: Introduction and Context Setting 
  • 11.20-12.10: Moderated Discussion
  • 12:10-12.30: Questions

This webinar is part of a larger effort by the Accountability Initiative to unpack India’s pandemic response. We have already held a lively discussion with grassroots Civil Society Organisation leaders on their contribution to the pandemic response and collaboration with the government.

To RSVP for this session, send us your interest at: socialmedia@accountabilityindia.org.