NITI Aayog (issue and challenges)

  • NITI AYOG is a premiere policy think tank of the Government of India. It was established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals by active involvement of state government in the planning process
  • This premiere policy think tank was established in 2015 via an executive resolution by replacing the Planning Commission of India

Features of NITI AYOG

  • Increased access to and sharing of information
  • Diminished role for centralized planning
  • Governance, across the public and private domains
  • To formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  • Continuing partnership with the states
  • To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think Tanks
  • Platforms for resolution of issues
  • Governance involves everyone
  • Mechanisms to evolve credible plans at the village level, evolve a shared vision

Objectives of NITI AYOG

  1. To evolve a shared vision for the development of national priorities, strategies, and sectors with the active involvement of the States.
  2. To develop mechanisms at the village level to formulate credible plans and to aggregate these mechanisms progressively at the higher levels of government.
  3. To foster cooperative federalism with the help of structured support mechanisms and initiatives on a continuous basis with the States, recognizing that strong States help in building a strong nation.
  4. To pay special attention to those sections of our society which may be at risk of not being adequately benefitted from the economic progress
  5. To ensure that the interests of national security are incorporated into economic policy and strategy.
  6. To design strategic, long term policy and program initiatives and frameworks, and monitor their efficacy and progress. The lessons learned through feedback and monitoring will be utilized in making innovative improvements that will include essential mid-course corrections.
  7. To provide advice and encourage partnership between key stakeholders and the national and international like-minded think tanks including the educational and research institutions.
  8. To offer a platform for resolving inter-sectoral and inter­-departmental issues to stimulate development performance.
  9. To develop innovation, knowledge, and entrepreneurial support system through a national and international expert’s collaborative community, practitioners, and other partners.
  10. To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, and to be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in equitable and sustainable development along with helping the stake-holders with their dissemination.
  11. To actively evaluate and monitor the implementation of initiatives and programs that comprises identification of the resources needed to strengthen the success probability and scope of delivery.
  12. To focus on capacity building and technology up-gradation for implementing programs and initiatives.
  13. To undertake such other activities as may be necessary to execute further the agenda of the national development, and the objectives mentioned above.

NITI AYOG has changed the fundamental nature of planning in India.

  • Change in policy making: While designing strategic and long term policies and programs for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre and States. Example: Medical Education Reform
  • Bottom- up approach: This enables to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. Example:
  • New innovations: At the core of NITI Aayog’s creation are two hubs – Team India Hub and the Knowledge and Innovation Hub. The Team India Hub leads the engagement of states with the Central government, while the Knowledge and Innovation Hub builds NITI’s think-tank capabilities. Example: Atal Innovation Mission (AIM)
  • Strategic programs:  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. Example: Education and Water Management
  • Coordination among different departments: It offers a platform for resolution of inter-sector and inter-departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda. Example: Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation
  • Use of advanced technology: NITI Aayog has taken initiative on Blockchain usages in E-governance and has conceptualized the tech stack as ‘IndiaChain’. IndiaChain is the name given to Niti Aayog’s ambitious project to develop a nation-wide blockchain network.
  • Digitization: It focuses on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives. Example: Digital India
  • Indices Measuring States’ Performance in Health, Education and Water Management: ‘Name and shame’ has helped improve states’ business rankings
  • Interference of Technocrats: introduction of individuals with technical training and occupations who perceive many important societal problems as being solvable with the applied use of technology and related applications. Example: Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, National Mission for Clean Ganga

Three plans spread over three different time periods

  1. First is a 15 year “Vision” that encompasses overall goals and objectives of the country for next 15 years.
  2. Second is a 7 year “Strategy” which lays the roadmap of development for next seven years dividing those goals and objectives into two parts.
  3. Third and Final is a “Three Year Action Agenda” which states the tasks and targets to be accomplished in next three years time frame, further dividing the strategy into two parts.

Success of NITI AYOG so far

  • It has increased the involvement of the states in the planning process. Ex: Hosted three sub-group of chief ministers on revamping centrally sponsored schemes, Swachh Bharat and Skill Development
  • NITI AYOG has been at the forefront in conceptualizing initiatives to contribute to the growth of the country. Ex: Roadmap for digital payment, Aspirational district programme, monitoring implementation of sustainable development goals (SDG) etc
  • It is fostering a sense of cooperative as well as competitive federalism amongst the states. Ex: Releasing ranking on various development parameters
  • The Atal Innovation Mission, which is established under NITI Aayog, has done admirable work in improving the innovation ecosystem in India.

Issues associated with NITI AYOG

  • NITI Aayog has no role in influencing private or public investment.
  • Inequality has continued to grow in the Indian society and the effect of NITI AYOG in combating this has been subpar
  • Politicization of the organization in recent times
  • Solutions to solve structure issues in the country are still not forthcoming
  • NITI AYOG has been transformed into a glorified recommendatory body which lacks the requisite power to bring positive change in the government’s actions
  • Inadequate resources to the new planning body

Way forward

  • Equipping the planning body with requisite powers so that it can effect change
  • Allocation of adequate resources
  • NITI AYOG could be made legally accountable to the legislature for its inability to meet the targets. This would bring in more accountability
  • Ensure the planning body remains a non-partisan institution

The setting up of NITI AYOG has brought positive results. However, there is a need to ensure sufficient changes are brought in the planning body to ensure it can meet its objectives