NITI Aayog: Planning Commission's Revamped Avatar
Moneylife Digital Team 02 January 2015

With the coming of the NITI Aayog, will it be a Planning Commission by another name or is it indeed a new way of looking at national idea?


On the first day of 2015, the Union Government announced the establishment of NITI Aayog, i.e., National Institution for Transforming India – the revamped version of the erstwhile Planning Commission. With the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, NITI Aayog will have a Governing Council consisting of Chief Ministers of all States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories. There will also be a Vice-President appointed by the Prime Minister.


This is a significant departure from the structure of the Planning Commission, which had the Prime Minister as the ex-officio Chairman and a nominated Deputy Chairman. The Commission reported to the National Development Council consisting of the state chief ministers and Lieutenant Governors of Indian territory.


Establishment of NITI Aayog may be seen a step forward in giving individual States more say in the policy-making process. According to the Press Release issued by government, “The centre-to-state one-way flow of policy, that was the hallmark of the Planning Commission era, is now sought to be replaced by a genuine and continuing partnership of states.” NITI Aayog seeks to serve as a “think-tank” to “to provide a critical directional and strategic input into the development process”, the release read.


Along with the Chairperson, the Governing Council and the Vice-President, NITI Aayog will have a CEO, full-time Members, 2 part-time members from research organisations of leading universities (on a rotational basis) and 4 ex-officio members nominated by the Prime Minister from the Union Council of Ministers.


Moreover, there will be Regional Councils set up on need-basis to address specific issues, comprising of Chief Ministers/Lt. Governors of the concerned regions. These will be formed for a specific tenure. This particular aspect may not really be a change from the structure that existed before, as the Planning Commission also formed separate panels for consultation to address inter-state issues.


Under the Resolution stated in the press release, there seems to be a focus on “cooperative federalism” and a “Bharatiya approach to development.” which involves “the active involvement of States in the light of national objectives”. There is also thrust on rural development, increased use of technology in governance as well as the ulitisation of the “geo-economic and geo-political strength” that we have in form of the huge NRI community.


With respect to the key objectives for NITI Aayog stated in the Press Release, there is an increased emphasis on the monitoring and implementation of the programs and initiatives along with the aforementioned focus on involvement of States in policy development. It also suggests a reduced involvement of the Centre in industry and service sectors, their role being restricted to policy making, regulation, and enabling legislation.


How effective this widening of focus and the shift from a top-down approach is, remains to be seen.

MG Warrier
9 years ago
Media analysis so far have not gone deep into the rationale of the revamp of Planning Commission, which in reality has come about as part of the reform process which India is undergoing. But for the change in name and the announcement in Modi’s maiden Independence speech on August 15, 2014, perhaps the changes would not have been subjected to the criticism by the mainstream media or opposition political parties. The previous regime has done damages to the system silently, like the withdrawal of pension scheme.
After Nehru, planning has remained an arithmetical exercise factoring in whatever was happening in the economy without much involvement of, or concern for, those affected by planning.
The new dispensation which claims to be a ‘bottom up’ approach, hopefully will allow more participation of stakeholders at ground level and ensure distributive justice. So far, higher share of resources are cornered by more developed geographical areas and the development needs of states which did not have a ‘hold’ at the centre were neglected. By and large, the change takes care to retain the essential roles played by the erstwhile Planning Commission while bringing focus on decentralisation and wider role for states.
The responsible opposition should, instead of ‘crying foul’, do more homework and suggest corrections where they feel the revamp goes against the broad interests of the country and the people.
M G Warrier, Thiruvananthapuram
Free Helpline
Legal Credit