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India establishes NITI Aayog in place of Planning Commission

New Delhi: In accordance with a key announcement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Independence Day, the Union Government today established NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), as replacement for the Planning Commission. This comes after extensive consultation across the spectrum of stakeholders, including state governments, domain experts and relevant institutions. NITI Aayog will seek to provide a critical directional and strategic input into the development process. The centre-to-state one-way flow of policy, that was the hallmark of the Planning Commission era, is now sought to be replaced by a genuine and continuing partnership of states. NITI Aayog will emerge as a "think-tank" that will provide Governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy. The NITI Aayog will also seek to put an end to slow and tardy implementation of policy, by fostering better Inter-Ministry coordination and better Centre-State coordination. It will help evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, and foster cooperative federalism, recognizing that strong states make a strong nation. The NITI Aayog will develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans to the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government. It will ensure special attention to the sections of society that may be at risk of not benefitting adequately from economic progress. The NITI Aayog will create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and partners. It will offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter-departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda. In addition, the NITI Aayog will monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes, and focus on technology upgradation and capacity building. Through the above, the NITI Aayog will aim to accomplish the following objectives and opportunities:
  •  An administration paradigm in which the Government is an "enabler" rather than a "provider of first and last resort."
  • Progress from "food security" to focus on a mix of agricultural production, as well as actual returns that farmers get from their produce.
  • Ensure that India is an active player in the debates and deliberations on the global commons.
  • Ensure that the economically vibrant middle-class remains engaged, and its potential is fully realized.
  • Leverage India`s pool of entrepreneurial, scientific and intellectual human capital.
  • Incorporate the significant geo-economic and geo-political strength of the Non-Resident Indian Community.
  • Use urbanization as an opportunity to create a wholesome and secure habitat through the use of modern technology.
  • Use technology to reduce opacity and potential for misadventures in governance.
The NITI Aayog aims to enable India to better face complex challenges, through the following:
  • Leveraging of India`s demographic dividend, and realization of the potential of youth, men and women, through education, skill development, elimination of gender bias, and employment
  • Elimination of poverty, and the chance for every Indian to live a life of dignity and self-respect
  • Reddressal of inequalities based on gender bias, caste and economic disparities
  • Integrate villages institutionally into the development process
  • Policy support to more than 50 million small businesses, which are a major source of employment creation
  • Safeguarding of our environmental and ecological assets

NITI Aayog: Objectives and Composition

The Government has replaced Planning Commission with a new institution named NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). A cabinet Resolution issued today gave details of the new institutions. The institutional framework of government has developed and matured over the years.   This has allowed the development of domain expertise which allows us the chance to increase the specificity of functions given to institutions.  Specific to the planning process, there is a need to separate as well as energize the distinct ‘process’ of governance from the ‘strategy’ of governance. In the context of governance structures, the changed requirements of our country, point to the need for setting up an institution that serves as a Think Tank of the government – a directional and policy dynamo.  The proposed institution has to provide governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy.  This includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support.  The institution has to be able to respond to the changing and more integrated world that India is part of. An important evolutionary change from the past will be replacing a centre-to-state one-way flow of policy by a genuine and continuing partnership with the states.   The institution must have the necessary resources, knowledge, skills and, ability to act with speed to provide the strategic policy vision for the government as well as deal with contingent issues. Perhaps most importantly, the institution must adhere to the  tenet that while incorporating positive influences from the world, no single model can be transplanted  from outside into the Indian scenario. We need to find our own strategy for growth.  The new institution has to zero in on what will work in and for India.   It will be a Bharatiya approach to development. The institution to give life to these aspirations is the NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India).  This is being proposed after extensive consultation across the spectrum of stakeholders including inter alia state governments, domain experts and relevant institutions.  The NITI Aayog will work towards the following objectives:
  1. To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in the light of national objectives.    The vision of the NITI Aayog will then provide a framework ‘national agenda’ for the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers to provide impetus to.
  2. To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  3. To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  4. To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy.
  5. To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefitting adequately from economic progress.
  6. To design strategic and long term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy.  The lessons learnt through monitoring and feedback will be used for making innovative improvements, including necessary mid-course corrections.
  7. To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think Tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  8. To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  9. To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter-departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  10. To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders.
  11. To actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and initiatives, including the identification of the needed resources so as to strengthen the probability of success and scope of delivery.
  12. To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives.
  13. To undertake other activities as may be necessary in order to further the execution of the national development agenda, and the objectives mentioned above. The NITI Aayog will comprise the following:
  • Prime Minister of India as the Chairperson
  • Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories Regional Councils will be formed to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region.  These will be formed for a specified tenure.  The Regional Councils will be convened by the Prime Minister and will comprise of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region.  These will be chaired by the  Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.
  • Experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister
The full-time organizational framework will comprise of, in addition to the Prime Minister as the Chairperson: i.      Vice-Chairperson: To be appointed by the Prime Minister ii.      Members: Full-time iii.      Part-time members: Maximum of 2 from leading universities research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity.  Part time members will be on a rotational basis. iv.      Ex Officio members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister. v.      Chief Executive Officer : To be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure, in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India. vi.      Secretariat as deemed necessary.

About Sanjay Trivedi

Sanjay Trivedi is honorary editor of Asia Times. He is senior Indian Journalist having vast experience of 25 years. He worked in Janmabhoomi, Vyapar, Divya Bhaskar etc. newspapers and TV9 Channel as well as www.news4education.com. He also served as Media Officer in Gujarat Technological University.

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