parameswaran-iyer-replaces-kant-as-niti-aayog-ceo

In News:

  • The Appointments Committee approved the appointment of ex civil servant Parameswaran Iyer as the new CEO of Niti Aayog.
  • Iyer was instrumental in the implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission.
  • Iyer will replace Amitabh Kant, whose six-year tenure is coming to an end.

NITI Aayog:

  • National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog, was formed via a resolution of the Union Cabinet on 1 January 2015.
  • It replaced the Planning Commission, which was set up in 1950.
  • It is the premier policy think tank of the Government of India, providing directional and policy inputs.
  • Apart from designing strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre, States and Union Territories.
  • Niti Aayog fosters cooperative federalism by bringing the States to act together in national interest.

Composition:

  • Chairperson: The Prime Minister (PM) of India
  • Governing Council:It is chaired by the PM and comprises Chief Ministers of all the States and Union Territories with legislatures and Lt Governors of other Union Territories.
  • It is constituted/reconstituted by the Cabinet Secretariat.
  • Full time organisational framework:
  • Vice Chairperson: Appointed by the PM, s/he enjoys the rank of a Cabinet Minister.
  • Full-Time Members: Enjoys the rank of a Minister of State.
  • Part-Time Members: Maximum 2.
  • Ex-Officio Members: Maximum of 4 members of the Union Council of Minister to be nominated by the PM.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Appointed by the PM for a fixed tenure, s/he enjoys the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.
  • Special Invitees: These will be experts with relevant domain knowledge to be nominated by the PM.

Objectives:

  • To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States.
  • To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  • To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  • To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy.
  • To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress.
  • To design strategic and long-term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy. The lessons learned through monitoring and feedback will be used for making innovative improvements, including necessary mid-course corrections.
  • To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  • To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  • To offer a platform for the resolution of inter-sectoral and inter­ departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  • To maintain a state-of-the-art resource centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders.
  • To actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and initiatives, including the identification of the needed resources so as to strengthen the probability of success and scope of delivery.
  • To focus on technology upgradation and capacity building for implementation of programmes and initiatives.
  • To undertake other activities as may be necessary in order to further the execution of the national development agenda, and the objectives mentioned above.

Functions:

NITI Aayog is developing itself as a state-of-the-art resource centre with the necessary knowledge and skills that will enable it to act with speed, promote research and innovation, provide strategic policy vision for the government, and deal with contingent issues. 

NITI Aayog’s entire gamut of activities can be divided into four main heads:

  • Policy and Programme Framework
  • Cooperative Federalism
  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Think Tank, and Knowledge and Innovation Hub

As a Think Tank: By collecting fresh and new ideas and sharing them with the government (both centre and states), it ensures that there is no inactivity in any organisation or institution.

Improving innovation: Through the flagship initiative, the Atal Innovation Mission (established under NITI Aayog), which has helped in improving the innovation ecosystem in India.

Bringing greater responsibility in the system: Development Monitoring and Evaluation Office (DMEO) under NITI Aayog, collects performance data of various Ministries on a real-time basis. These data are then used at the highest policy-making levels to improve performance and accountability.

NITI Aayog: Promoting Federalism

Cooperative Federalism

  • NITI provides a platform for direct problem-based interactions between the state and the central sector, thereby helping to resolve issues quickly. 
  •  The NITI Northeast Forum  has been established and is working with the North Eastern Council to implement specific sectoral proposals by the state. 
  •  NITI has outlined some important island development initiatives under the overall direction of the Union Home Ministry. 
  •  It is also envisioned that  other regional councils for states may be formed, such as the NITI Northeast Forum. 
  •  The first step was the formation of the Himalayan  Regional Council and the coalition of all 13 central universities in these states.

Competitive Federalism

  • It promotes competitive federalism primarily by promoting publicly accessible sectoral indices. 
  •  Indicators on water, education, health, innovation, export readiness and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have received a lot of positive attention. 
  •  It  also introduced a competitive element into its Aspirational District Program by focusing on improving local governance. 
  •  Indicators related to health and nutrition, education, etc. have improved significantly in these districts. 
  •  In addition, some governance best practices  have emerged from these districts and are now being expanded and replicated at the block level in some states

Challenges:

  • NITI Aayog cannot transform a deeply unequal society into a modern economy that guarantees the well-being of all its citizens. This is reflected in the growing inequality in India.  
  • NITI Aayog does not influence private or public investment.  
  • NITI Aayog does not seem to influence long-term policy making. For example,  Goods and Services Tax.  
  • NITI Aayog often provides non-critical support for government-sponsored schemes and programs. But she needs to maintain an intellectual distance from the government.

Way ahead:

  • NITI Aayog should concentrate on policy implementation instead of just policy recommendations.
  • It should also be focusing on reforms and informing the government where it is falling short.