N. K. Singh
|N. K. Singh|
Singh at the World Economic Forum on India in 2012
27 January 1941 |
|Occupation||Member of Parliament, Economist, Civil Servant|
|Spouse(s)||Prem Kumari Singh (Tiny)|
|Children||Meenakshi Singh, Abhijeet Singh, Madhavi Singh|
Nand Kishore Singh (N. K. Singh) is a politician, economist and former Indian Administrative Service officer. He is a senior Member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) since March 2014  after having served as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha (2008-2014) from Bihar. He has been a senior bureaucrat, Member Planning Commission and handled assignments of Union Expenditure and Revenue Secretary and Additional Secretary Economic Affairs connected with International organisations like World Bank, IMF and UNDP. He was also Officer on Special Duty (India) to Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee. He is currently on the board of Hindustan Times, ICRIER, IMI, Nalanda University as well as connected with the Stanford University and the India Advisory Committee of London School of Economics and Columbia University. He is the former Chairman, Board of Governors of Management Development Institute (MDI), Gurgaon. He is currently the Chairman of the review committee for Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003, under the Ministry of Finance (India), Government of India.
Early life and Career
Born in Kolkata on 27 January 1941, Singh completed his Senior Cambridge Examination at St. Xavier’s College, Patna before he joined St Stephens College, Delhi for pursuing graduation. He did Masters in Economics from the Delhi School of Economics (DSE) at a time when well-known economists like Sukhamoy Chakravarty, Amartya Sen and Jagdish Bhagwati were on the faculty.
Before beginning his career in civil services, he taught Economics as a regular faculty member at St Stephens College (1963). Later, he joined the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1964 and was assigned the State of Bihar.
Following that, he has held the following positions:
- Member, State Secretariat, Finance Department (1968–69)
- Under Secretary, Ministry of Commerce (1969–73)
- Special Assistant to Commerce Minister (1973–77)
- Represented India at GATT, UNACTD, UN and the Common Wealth Secretariat.
- Chairman, Bihar State Electricity Board
- Special Assistant to the current President Pranab Mukherjee, then former Minister of Commerce, Steel and Mines (1980–81)
- First Minister, Economic and Commercial, Indian Embassy, Japan (1981–85)
- Additional Finance Commissioner, Principal Secretary Industries and Industrial Development Commissioner, Bihar (1986–90)
- Joint Secretary Police (Ministry of Home Affairs) (1990–91)
- Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance) (1991–93)
- First Chairman UNGEF (United Nations Global Environment Facility) (1993–94)
- Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (1993–95)
- Secretary, Department of Expenditure (1995–96)
- Revenue Secretary (1996–98)
- Secretary to former PM AB Vajpayee (1998-2001)
- Member Planning Commission (2001–14)
- Deputy Chairman, Bihar State Planning Board (2006–08)
- Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha (2008–14)
As Revenue Secretary (July 1996 – August 1998), he oversaw the Dream Budget (1997–98), one of the most ambitious tax reforms so far. Tax rates were substantially reduced and personal Income Tax rates were brought down considerably from 15, 30 and 40 per cent to 10, 20 and 30 per cent. Similarly, corporate tax rates were also significantly reduced apart from simplifying and merging the widely varying customs and excise duty structure. Import tariffs were also slashed down to align India’s import duties with other emerging markets. Moreover, a Voluntary Disclosure of Income Scheme (VDIS) was launched in the same year which enabled people to make voluntary disclosures given the benefits of lower tax rates. This enabled not only tax realisation of over $2 billion as hidden wealth of over Rs.33,000 crores or $10 billion being brought back to the economic stream. The VDIS scheme is considered a watershed and many have clamoured for its repetition both for domestic and foreign income.
Task Force on Telecom
He has also served as the Secretary, Task Force on Telecommunications and played a key role in placing a far-reaching reform on deregulation of India’s Telecommunication sector. During his tenure, another major reform in the telecomm policy was to auction the spectrum bandwidth to the highest bidder.
National Highway Development Project
As PMO Secretary and Member Secretary of the Task Force on Infrastructure, N.K. Singh was instrumental in the planning of the 1300O KM National Highways Development Project (NHDP). Comprising the Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South and East-West corridors, it was one of the flagship scheme of the Indian Government and NHAI (National Highway Authority of India).
Career as a Member of Parliament
Singh was elected as a Member of Parliament to the Rajya Sabha from Bihar in April 2008 representing the Janata Dal (United). He was a member of several important Parliamentary Committees including the Public Accounts Committee, Committee on Public Undertakings, Committee on External Affairs, Committee on MPLADS, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource Development, Consultative Committee on Finance and the Parliamentary Forum on Global Warming and Climate Change. He joined the BJP in the run-up to the General Elections in 2014 following his close association with the NDA for over a decade.
N.K. Singh comes from a well-connected family of bureaucrats and politicians.
- Father- Late Sir T.P Singh, the country's first Secretary, Planning Commission, and later Union Finance Secretary
- Mother- Late Madhuri Singh, ex-Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from the Purnia constituency, Bihar
- Brother- Uday Singh, ex-Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from the Purnia constituency, Bihar
- Sister- Shyama Singh, ex-Member of Parliament, Lok Sabha from Aurangabad, Bihar, married to former Governor of Kerala & Former Union Home Secretary, Nikhil Kumar
- Sister-Radha Singh, ex IAS, former Union Agriculture Secretary
- Sister-Krishna Singh,ex IAS, former Union Secretary
N.K. Singh has authored "The New Bihar" which is a collection of essays on the state's model of development, shedding light on its achievements, shortcomings, and the challenges ahead. His other publication, "Not by Reason Alone", is a commentary on Indian political economy, analysing the various reforms pertaining to infrastructure, finance, government policies and Centre-state relations. His first book, "The Politics of Change", gives the reader a window into Indian politics and economy, providing insights into the realities of coalition politics and international fault lines.
The Japanese order is the second highest civilian award accorded to people with distinguished achievements in the field of international relations, promotion of Japanese culture, development in welfare or preservation of the environment.
On April 29, 2016, NK Singh was conferred with the 2nd class Gold and Silver of the Order of the Rising sun by the Japanese Government. He is the only Indian in the list of recipients of 2016 Spring Imperial Decorations.
Chairman, FRBM Committee
The Government of India formed a Review Committee to evaluate the FRBM Act, 2003 in order to assess its functionality in the last 12 years. The five member panel, which includes Former Finance Secretary Sumit Bose, Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, Reserve Bank of India Governor Urjit Patel and National Institute of Public Finance and Policy Director Rathin Roy, is chaired by Mr. N.K. Singh. The committee’s mandate includes making recommendations to pave the way forward, keeping at its focus fiscal consolidation and prudence. The feasibility of fiscal deficit range and aligning fiscal change with credit change analysis is also incorporated in the ambit.
Nira Radia Tapes
In 2010, BJP’s Arun Shourie claimed that one of the conversations in the Nira Radia tapes could involve NK Singh. He alleged that the order of the speakers in the Rajya Sabha was changed to give an edge on retroactive tax rebates to Reliance Industries. The tapes allude to Shourie’s replacement by Venkaiah Naidu ahead of the 2009 Budget session in Rajya Sabha. Those claims were dismissed by Venkiah Nadu who rubbished them in the media while Singh and the BJP called it "baseless and ridiculous."  Singh said his conversation was a “social informal chat” in the wider interest of India's energy which had no bearing on a policy issue.
- "ECI - Press Note" (PDF).
- Flying with BS: Nitish Kumar
- "Venkaiah disputes Shourie's claim on Radia influence on BJP". 30 Nov 2010.
- "Lobbying charge by Arun Shourie stirs row". 29 Nov 2010.
- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article922360.ece Reliance advocacy was for national ‘energy security': N.K. Singh November 30, 2010