The Government of India formally replaced the Planning Commission with a new institution called NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) on 1 January 2015, and named its vice-chairman and other members soon after on 5 January . NITI Aayog will play a vital role in serving as the “Think Tank” of the Government and will provide the Central and the State Governments with relevant advice, both technical and strategic, on key policies and developmental issues of the economy, using the best practices. It is time now for the Government to reflect and review the lessons learnt from the 64-year old Planning Commission or Yojana Aayog and focus on new areas which are important for transforming India into a developed country. It is rightfully said that the destiny or niyati lies in creating the right, effective and appropriate blueprint or yojana.
Constitution of NITI Aayog and its members
- Chairman: Prime Minister Narendra Modi
- Vice-Chairman: Eminent economist Arvind Panagariya
- Full-time members: Economist Bibek Debroy and former Secretary, Defence R&D, VK Saraswat
- Ex officio members: Union Ministers Rajnath Singh, Suresh Prabhu, Arun Jaitley and Radha Mohan Singh
- Special invitees: Union Ministers Smriti Irani, Nitin Gadkari and Thawar Chand Gehlot
- Governing Council: State Chief Ministers and Heads of all Union Territories. The Governing Council replaces the previous National Development Council.
What was the role of former Planning Commission
The Planning Commission was set up in the year 1950 by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, to formulate Five-Year Plans. The main objective was to help in the formulation of policies and creation of a strong Central Government-driven plan that would have great impact on the development of each of the States in the country. Under the Planning Commission or Yojana Aayog, the flow of policy was directed from the Centre to the States and the Union Territories. The Planning Commission was involved in:
- Assessment of resources of the country – material, capital and human, and making optimum use of the resources and proper formulation of proposals.
- An effective formulation of the Five-Year Plans for a balanced utilisation of the country’s resources and make each State prosperous.
- Determination of priorities and allocation of resources.
- Determination of infrastructure necessary for the successful implementation of the Plan in various stages.
- Regular checks of the progress achieved at each stage etc.
What is new: More say for States in NITI Aayog
The NITI Aayog has been initiated for an open, constant and ongoing involvement, participation and partnership of every State. The State Governments can now play an active role in achieving the national objectives while at the same time giving importance to their specific needs. Unlike the earlier Planning Commission, the Centre won’t influence or dictate the States. This means that the new NITI Aayog will enable the States to play a greater and direct role in formulating plans. Hence, there would no longer be any kind of communication gap and instead there will be more effective implementation of plans.
The main points of difference between the two:
- In NITI Aayog, the funds allocation will be undertaken by the Finance Ministry whereas earlier, the Planning Commission had the powers to allocate funds. NITI Aayog will act as an advisory body.
- Compared to the Planning Commission which had eight full-time members, the number of full-time members in NITI Aayog is two.
- While earlier the State Governments’ role was limited to Planning Commission meetings, in NITI Aayog the State Governments will play a more important, pro-active and participatory role.
- NITI Aayog will have a number of part-time members, depending on the necessity from time to time but the earlier Yojana Aayog had no part-time members
What is effective or good governance as defined by the new Govt?
- To fulfil the aspirations of each individual and the society as a whole.
- To anticipate and respond to their needs.
- Complete involvement of citizens.
- Empowering women.
- Inclusion of all types of people and groups, with emphasis on the economically weak, the SC, ST and OBC groups, the rural sector and farmers, youths and all minorities.
- Equality of opportunity to youth.
- Transparent implementation through the use of modern technology so that the Government is visible to the public and responsive.
What are the objectives of NITI Aayog
NITI Aayog will have the following objectives:
- To create a vision and plan of national development with the active involvement of the States.
- To encourage cooperative federalism by engaging the States on a continuous basis to make a strong nation.
- To develop methods to create credible plans at the village level and later on at higher levels of Government.
- The interests of national security are to be considered in economic strategy and policy.
- To pay attention to the communities of our society that are not adequately benefited from economic progress.
- To design long-term programmes and policies and monitor their progress. Here, time to time monitoring and feedback will become the basis for making the necessary improvements and corrections.
- To encourage participation of key stakeholders, think tanks, educational and policy research institutions.
- To create an innovation, entrepreneur and knowledge support system.
- To offer a common platform for solving any kind of inter-departmental or sectoral issues to speed up the implementation of development agenda.
- To establish and maintain a sophisticated resource and research centre on good governance and best practices.
- To focus on up-gradation of technology for proper implementation of programmes and initiatives.
- To undertake various other activities required to accelerate the implementation of the national development agenda and other objectives.
On 18 May 2015, the government launched the website of the NITI Aayog. After the government replaced the Planning Commission with NITI Aayog, it had archived the Commission’s website. The beta version of the website was launched by its Vice Chairman, Dr. Arvind Panagariya. The new portal will have all the details about the constitution, functions and current activities of the Aayog. It will also feature the reports prepared by the Aayog while it is in its initial stages. A unique feature has also been added to the website – NITI Blogs which will comprise field reports, articles, work in progress and opinions of the officials of the Aayog.
According to the press release by NITI Aayog the final website is under construction and will soon be updated.
The website can be accessed at http://www.niti.gov.in