It is surely a tall demand that we are making of our Economic Adviser. But considering the responsibilities that he is supposed to bear, these virtues are essential.And these virtues have also their reward for the man possessing them. For if our practising economist is deprived of the privilege of building models and refining techniques in the analytical field, such as his academic counterpart enjoys, he can take inspiration from the fact that he has a direct hand in molding the affairs of the society.
In what way does he have to operate in practice, if he is to be effective? The answer cannot be clear cut, for very much depends upon the mutual relation between the person giving advice and the person receiving it. In a way the situation is paradoxical; after all the Economic Adviser is there to satisfy the Minister, and his existence depends in a large measure upon the favour or frown of the Minister. What is worse, as our organization stands today, the Economic Adviser may often be subservient to the Secretariat, too. Where there is conflict, therefore, he is apt to take an easy line by just showing the pros and cons of a given measure, and reducing his task to putting whatever decision the ruling authority would take in a more precise and elegant form than the latter could ever do. This way lies frustration of the purpose for which the institution of Economic Adviser is supposed to stand.
Your Economic Adviser must be firm in his prescription of policy. His intellectual training and wide knowledge of facts should entitle him to leadership in the formulation of economic policy. It is not enough for him to suggest ‘means to attain given ends’. He must not shirk the responsibility of choosing ends, too. He is not merely to diagnose; he has also to prescribe. And once he fixes his mind on a particular prescription of policy, he should have the boldness to push it through. If one has the courage of conviction, one can perhaps find ways of getting things done. If you fail to convince your Minister once, you repeat it and go on doing it until even the most recalcitrant Minister comes round to your view, if only for the sake of an experiment.
Here at last we come to the obligations of the party receiving advice. If the Economic Adviser is to function properly, he must be made to feel free to exercise his judgement. The minimum objective condition for this is that he must be independent of and not be a part of the Secretariat. Both the Secretariat and the Adviser would benefit from this separation. And once this was done, the effectiveness of the Economic Adviser would depend upon the manner in which he is used by the Minister.
In view of the large area of responsibility that the Modern State is taking in the economic field, the welfare of the society depends very largely on the able guidance of the trained economist whose services are requisitioned for the purpose. The Adviser must therefore be spared enough leisure and opportunity to think patiently on broad policy matters, instead of being dragged into the daily routine work of the Ministry.
Briefing the Minister on economic matters is no doubt one of his jobs in a Parliamentary system of Government. But the Minister must know the limit where the Economic Adviser’s duty ends. The Economic Adviser is a new institution yet in its experimental stage; it requires delicate handling if it is not to degenerate into a mere department of the State.