Topic : Is NITI Aayog old wine in a new bottle
Topic in Syllabus :
There must be a Review of what NITI Aayog has achieved so far to adopt the new role described in its charter, that of a catalyst of change in a complex, federal, socioeconomic system. Assess whether it has transformed its capabilities sufficiently to become an effective systems reformer and persuader of stakeholders, rather than merely an announcer of lofty multi-year goals and manager of projects, which many suspect it is.
The first major reform PM Narendra Modi announced in his first term was to abolish the Planning Commission.
- He replaced it with the loftily titled ‘National Institution for Transforming India’ (NITI Aayog).
- Now, when the country’s economy has not performed to the high expectations Mr. Modi had created, the performance of the NITI Aayog is under scrutiny.
Current concerns over it’s functioning:
There is deep concern that NITI Aayog has lost its integrity as an independent institution to guide the government .There are a lot of issues in the Indian Economy that need immediate attention.
- Need to increase employment and incomes
- Revive investments and growth
- Untangle the financial sector;
- Navigate muddied-up international trade
- Solve the perennial problems of poor education and health, and the growing problems of environmental pollution and water scarcity.
- Even though statistical confusion was created in the run-up to the election to deny that problems of unemployment and growth were serious, high-powered Cabinet committees have been formed to tackle them.
- Regardless of whether or not India has the fastest growing GDP, it has a long way to go to achieve economic and social inclusion, and restore environmental sustainability.
- India’s problems are complex because they are all interrelated. Fixing one part of the system alone can make matters worse.
- For example, providing skills to millions of youth before there are enough employment opportunities is a bold fix that can backfire. The complexity of the task demands a good plan and a good strategy.
Concerns regardingNITI Aayog Independence:
- There is deep concern that NITI Aayog has lost its integrity as an independent institution to guide the government; that it has become a mouthpiece of the government and an implementer of the government’s projects.
- Many insist that NITI Aayog must have the ability to independently evaluate the government’s programmes at the Centre and in the States.
- Some recall that an Independent Evaluation Office set up in the last days of the UPA-II government was swiftly closed by the NDA government.
- Others counter that the Planning Commission had a Programme Evaluation Organisation all along and which continues. They miss the need for a fundamental transformation in the approach to planning and change.
What needs to be done?
- The NITI Aayog charter is a good starting point for a new journey in transforming the governance of the Indian economy.
- NITI Aayog must have the ability to independently evaluate the government’s programmes at the Centre and in the States. The transformational approach to planning and implementation that 21st century India needs, which is alluded to in NITI’s charter, requires evaluations and course-corrections in the midst of action.
- The NITI Aayog and the government would do well to conduct an open-minded review of what NITI Aayog has achieved so far to adopt the new role described in its charter — that of a catalyst of change in a complex, federal, socioeconomic system. And assess whether it has transformed its capabilities sufficiently to become an effective systems reformer and persuader of stakeholders, rather than merely be an announcer of lofty multi-year goals and manager of projects, which many suspect it is.
- It requiresnew methods to speed up ‘organisational learning’ amongst stakeholders in the system who must make plans together and implement them together. There is a need for new methods of cooperative learning and cooperative implementation by stakeholders, who are not controlled by any central body of technical experts with political and/or budgetary authority over them.
Merely filling this new bottle with old ideas of budgets, controls and expert solutions from above will not transform India.The debate about NITI Aayog’s efficacy must focus on whether or not it is performing the new role it must, and what progress it has made in acquiring capabilities to perform this role, rather than slipping back into the ruts of yesterday’s debates about the need for a Planning Commission.
Sample Question :
Critically examine whether NITI Aayog is old wine in a new bottle?