Is the NITI Aayog relevant today?
- 21 Sep 2018
- 4 min read
The ‘Yes, No, It’s complicated’ column of The Hindu for 21st September 2018, analyses the relevance of NITI Aayog in the governance system of India.
Background: The National Institution for Transforming India, also called NITI Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on January 1, 2015, as a premier policy ‘Think Tank’ of the Government of India, providing both directional and policy inputs. NITI Aayog was constituted to replace the Planning Commission instituted in 1950. This was done in order to better serve the needs and aspirations of the people of India. The institution is headed by the Prime Minister, and its Governing Council comprises of State Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors of Union Territories.
An Action Think Tank
The institution was formed to act as a think tank- to introduce innovative and fresh ideas for governance. It acts as a point of convergence at various levels of governance, from policy formulation to the
Wields No Influence
With the paradigm shifts taking place with respect to globalization, immigration, automation and financial sector policies, the transformation of Indian economy require foresighted and progressive planning. NITI Aayog as an institution, unlike the Planning Commission, lacks the power to influence government decisions. It cannot direct, public or private investment and have little hold on the policymaking with long-term consequences like demonetization or goods and services tax. The process of planning cannot be abandoned altogether for a developing economy.
Substituting the centralized planning with a ‘bottom-up’ approach where the body supports the formulation of plans at the village level and aggregate them at higher levels of government is a welcome step. However, this needs to be within a specific time-frame supported by a bureaucracy that is more specialist than generalist in its approach towards implementation and policy execution.