Thursday, January 1, 2015

Niti Aayog - A Right Step

Modi government has scraped planning commission and had replaced it with Niti Aayog. Niti stands for National Institution for Transforming India. The one aspect of Niti Aayog, which I felt is very important and was always lacking in the old planning commission, is the emphasis on the federal structure of the country. 

The central ministry acts as an executive team for national level. It is effective in dealing with issues pertaining to national importance. However the issues at country level can be effectively dealt by the
team of Prime minister and Chief ministers and their team members. Issues of national level are those which homogenizes the variations inside. A good example is defence. Issues at country level requires the acceptance of the variations. Policy making is an important aspect of that and it's important to build a framework which allows the variation to play their role.

The older planning commission was increasingly becoming a ritual. The policy flow was mostly from centre to state. Also the commission was turning out to be more of a body, generating research reports. The gaps between implementation and ideas was increasingly becoming wider. Also the low acceptance of Planning commission model among non congress party resulted in very less executive powers to the body, considering the decreasing influence of Congress in power. Like many things in world, it was a good idea when started but lack of reforms to keep pace with current needs made it more and more obsolete.

Niti Aayog on the contrary brings the importance of including state heads in policy formulations. This also provides a formal forum for building centre state relationships. The issue of development has many facets. It's not only the economic development but we have more finer issues to deal with. The issue of clean water, health, education are very important in current context and are important elements for comprehensive economic development. This requires a good dialogue between centre and state and a close coordination between them to transform India. Hopefully this is what Niti will be able to achieve and do not result in political settlement ground.

Centre can create vision and plans but successful execution requires states to take part in the process, whole heartedly. The policies should not be the high octane speech from the corridors of Delhi but  is shared understanding of problems and there solutions. With the strong political mandate on BJP side, I am quite hopeful that this has the potential to transform India.

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