He was the Chairman of the Finance Commission in the rank of a Union Cabinet Minister until January, 2010. He was earlier Advisor to the Minister of Finance in the rank of a Minister of State from 2002 to 2004,and is known for his role in economic reforms in India. Prior to this, he has held various senior level positions in Government of India (GOI) as well as in international organizations including Executive Director for India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Bhutan at the IMF from August, 1999 to August, 2002; Finance Secretary, GOI, 1998–1999; Chairman, Tariff Commission, GOI, 1997–1998: Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, GOI, 1994–1997; Director & Coordinator, International Trade Division, UNCTAD, Geneva, Switzerland, 1991–1994; Chairman, Bureau of Industrial Costs & Prices and Secretary to the GOI, 1987–1991; Secretary, Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister, GOI, 1985–1988; Advisor, Economic Policy & Planning, Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, GOI, 1982–1987; Economic Advisor, Ministry of Commerce,GOI, 1977–1981.
In January 2011, the President of India awarded him “PADMA VIBHUSHAN”, the second highest Civilian Award for distinguished and exceptional service to the Nation.
Dr. Kelkar chaired Task Force for implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2004; Task Force on Direct Taxes, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2002 as well as Task Force on Indirect Taxes, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, 2002. He recently chaired the Committee appointed by the Finance Minister to outline a roadmap for fiscal consolidation.
Dr. Kelkar has been member of Board of Directors, Advisory Council and Board of Governors of various global companies and organizations including Tata Consulting Services, CITI Group, Hero Honda Motors, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations, Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, India National Innovation Foundation, Ahmedabad, Indian Society of Energy and Environment Economics, New Delhi, and Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi,
among many others.
Dr. Kelkar has also taught at Administrative Staff College of India, Hyderabad, Center for Economic Development and Administration, Kathmandu, Nepal, South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany and University of California at Berkeley, USA.
Dr. Kelkar holds B.S., from University of Pune, India, 1963, M.S., from University of Minnesota, USA, 1965 and Ph. D from University of California at Berkeley, USA, 1970.