Are Anything But Toothless

Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog of India

Arvind Panagariya, Vice Chairman of Niti Aayog of India

1You have been aware of the working of the Planning Commission as well. How do you contrast that with the present setup of Niti Aayog? The concept of Planning Commission was totally different. But it was in accordance with the developmental need of the hour. It was rather a nodal centre, responsible for overall development of the nation on macro level with a balanced approach for the states. It had the mandate to allocate funds to central ministries as well as to states. The Commission was also responsible for approving various states’ annual plans. For every chief minister, Yojna Bhawan was like the Mecca and everyone was at the mercy of the Vice Chairperson of the Planning commission. Not anymore.

Does that mean Niti Aayog is a toothless entity? We are not toothless. The withdrawal of executive powers doesn’t mean Aayog is toothless. It has been given a much bigger responsibility: a new beginning with a growth oriented motive. Niti Aayog is engaged in a lot of new ideas

and is planning for the overall growth, keeping in mind that states are engines of national growth. We are a think-tank and a policy-plan maker of the government of India. Because we are focused, efficiency has increased. In a very short span, we prepared the disinvestment policy. We suggested the revival of loss making industries. We are also discussing defence and internal security issues. Planning Commission had no mandate to review these sectors; these were out of the Planning Commission’s reach. We made the National Energy Policy, and now we are reviewing MCI and UGC.What the next line of action?

As you know, the 12th Five Year Plan is ending on April 2017. We shall not continue it any further. But planning is an ongoing process essential for national growth. Niti Aayog is working on three proposals. The first is a long-term vision document, the second is a seven years’ proposal and the third is a development document for three years. We have plans for states and sectors, aiming at making India a force
to reckon with.