Empower NITI Aayog

Empower NITI Aayog: It's yet to evolve as an authoritative voice in policy making...

NITI  Aayog’s future

Business Standard editorial “Empower NITI Aayog” (August 3) briefly covers the birth and growth of NITI Aayog from Prime Minister Modi's August 15, 2014 announcement from the ramparts of Red fort to demolish Planning Commission (calling it a house in disrepair) and reconstruct it, to certain useful suggestions about the future of the “rebuilt edifice” contained in the resignation letter tendered by Dr Arvind Panigariya last week.
At a time when India needed their services most, Dr Raghuram Rajan and Dr Arvind Panagaria took ‘short’ breaks from academia and served in this country occupying positions crucial to the country’s economic development. It is another matter that we couldn’t lure them to stay on. Let us thank them for being with us and providing leadership in their respective areas of expertise.
Both the exits point to the need for the country to have a talent pool for avoiding vacuums when top positions fall vacant at shorter intervals. Except for unexpected reasons, we need to plan for continuity for positions like those held by Panagaria and Rajan, for 5 to 10 years. Though both have justified their presence, three years is too short a period for ‘visions’ getting translated into visible actions.
Irrespective of people heading them, institutions have to carry on. GOI has now to help NITI Aayog to perform its assigned role by providing appropriate leadership and functional autonomy. This will need much more than the ‘floating talent pool’ or freedom in carrying out research work and producing reports. If NITI Aayog’s guidance has to be taken seriously by central ministries and states in the environment of “Cooperative Federalism” which Prime Minister Modi is comfortable with, Centre has to first restore trust and credibility in institutions including NITI Aayog. For that, it is imperative to allow them to apply their ‘mind’ in performance of their professional functions within legal mandates.
M G Warrier, Mumbai


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