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Niti Aayog’s Three Year Action Agenda
Aug 28, 2017

[GS Paper II: (Separation of powers between various organs, dispute redressal mechanisms and institutions)]

Why in News?

On 24th August, the Niti Aayog released its Three Year Action Agenda 2017-18 to 2019-20. The action agenda states that there are good prospects for the Indian economy to return to 8% growth in the next 2-3 years. It focuses on seven key areas that include revenue and expenditure, economic transformation in major sectors, regional development, growth enablers, and reforms in governance, social sectors and sustainability.

Key Points of the Action Agenda

Education

  • The NITI Aayog has recommended changes in the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act to focus on learning.
  • The Aayog has pitched for overhaul of the University Grants Commission (UGC) and a rationalisation of the role of professional councils.
  • The government needs to create 20 world-class universities, provide autonomy for top colleges and universities, reform the regulatory system, establish system of projects/researcher-specific grants and increase focus on vocational and profession-led education.
  • The government’s strategy on improving higher education should focus on autonomous governance and transparency.

Skill development

  • The skill development initiatives by the government have not yielded the desired result and the country still faces a challenge of training a large workforce.
  • Estimates suggest that only 2.3% of India’s workforce has undergone formal skill training, compared to 68% in United Kingdom, 75% in Germany, 52% in USA, 80% in Japan, and 96% in South Korea.
  • According to estimates for the period 2013-14, India’s annual skilling capacity at around seven million is significantly lower than the workforce entering the market annually, while the quality of skills imparted is also a matter of concern. 
  • It recommends that for those who undergo skill training, the National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) should target a placement rate of 80% or more by 2020.

Coastal economic zones

  • The action agenda backed setting up of coastal economic zones for large labour intensive industries to create jobs by providing a more liberal economic environment and flexible labour laws.

Overseas Employment Promotion Agency

  • It recommends that a national-level Overseas Employment Promotion Agency (OEPA) should be set up under the Ministry of External Affairs to consolidate all the overseas employment promotion initiatives of the government.

Water Conservation: 

  • It has advocated a series of steps to conserve water and battle water stress in the country, including the concept of groundwater banking.
  • Groundwater banking is the practice of recharging specific amounts of water in a groundwater basin that can later be withdrawn and used by the entity that deposited the water.
  • The three-year plan also suggests measures such as state-specific water policies including an independent regulator with powers to regulate water uses and pricing, enactment of legislation for protection of water bodies and prevention of encroachment on water bodies, enactment of river basin management law and formation of River Basin Organizations (RBOs) for management of inter-State river basins by 2019 and enactment of a National Water Framework Act.
  • It also calls for development of a “water footprint in the irrigation sector” for the major crops - wheat and rice - and then for other crops for adoption at farm-level by 2018. Studies have indicated that about 80% of India’s population faces severe water scarcity.

Environmental measures

  • The plan advocates that all linear projects such as road, power lines and rail projects that cut through forests “incorporate mitigation measures at all stages of planning, construction, and maintenance” as that will allow projects to go ahead without cutting off migration corridors that are essential to prevent species from going extinct.

Simultaneous elections

  • It has favoured conducting synchronised two-phase Lok Sabha and assembly elections from 2024 in “national interest”. 

Three Year Action Agenda 

In May 2016, the Prime Minister’s Office advised the NITI Aayog, independent think tank, to prepare a Fifteen Year Vision, Seven Year Strategy and Three Year Action Agenda. 

  • The Three Year Action Agenda covers the period from 2017-18 to 2019-20, the last years of the Fourteenth Finance Commission. 
  • The Fifteen Year Vision and Seven Year Strategy document spanning 2017-18 to 2031-32 is in progress. 
  • The 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17) is the last of the Five Year Plans. 

The NITI Aayog Composition

  • Chairperson : Prime Minister of India 
  • Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories
  • Regional Councils: These would be created as per need and its members would be chief ministers and administrators of UTs of respective regions.
  • Vice-Chairperson: To be appointed by the Prime Minister
  • Ex Officio members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Ministers to be nominated by the Prime Minister. 
  • Chief Executive Officer: To be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure, in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Members: Full-time and part-time members (Maximum of 2)

 


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