Finally, NITI aayog is in action after the obsequies of planning commission. Planning commission was considered a lame-duck with quixotic style of working, relying on five-year plans to meet its objective. But, in what respect the current NITI aayog is different from planning commission, or it is just an old wine in a new bottle? The basic reason behind writing this blog was to find out the actual difference between the two, which was quite confusing initially.
NITI aayog is headed by prime minister as chairperson and a vice-chairperson (Arvind panagriya) and CEO (Sindhushree khullar) appointed by prime minister. Presently two full-time members have been appointed (Bibek Debroy and V K Saraswat) which can maximum become 4-5 alongwith a provision of maximum 2 part-time members.Ex-officio members consisting of council of ministers nomimated by PM will consist of maximum four members.
Also, NITI has been asked to turn into a ‘lean and mean’ organisation by the goverment within next three-six months, but simultaneously advised to infuse outside talent, including at senior levels.
Planning commission enjoyed the powers to allocate funds to ministries and state governments.
NITI aayog has no any power to allocate funds.
States didn’t have any say in policy planning earlier except the National development council meetings.
The present devolution of central tax collections as per the recommendations of 14th finance commission has provided more money in the hand of states. Also, NITI aayog has a provision of governing council consisting of chief ministers of states and Lt. governors of union territories and regional council to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one states.
So, this strengthens the idea of cooperative federalism of prime minister Modi and replaces the centre to state one way flow of policy by a genuine and continuing partnership with states.
Policy planning approach
Earlier there was a one size fits all approach with same type of planning and fund allocation of funds for states different in terms of development indicators, geography, demography etc.
Now, the regional council can deal with the specific problem of one or more than one states or union territories.
So, NITI aayog is an advisory body or think-tank to the central government. It’s a directional and policy dynamo with an objective to provide strategic and technical advice to central and state governments across the spectrum of key elements of policy.
And, keeping it short I would like to conclude with the words of prime minister modi, “NITI aayog is a pro-people, pro-active and participative development agenda stressing on empowerment and equality is the guiding principle behind it.”