‘We plan a tectonic shift to federalism’
Prime Minister Narendra Modi replaced the Planning Commission with the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. Vice chairman Arvind Panagariya discusses the organisation’s role and vision with Uday Mahurkar
Q. What are NITI Aayog’s challenges?
A. To help India realise its full potential. Although India has made giant strides in the past few years, a comparison with China reveals we have not been able to tap our full potential due to bad policymaking. The NITI Aayog plans a tectonic shift to a more federal structure, which we believe will accelerate growth.
Q. What’s your plan?
A. We have a 15-year vision document which we are putting in place, a seven-year strategy and a three-year action plan. These take in all the major areas of governance.
Q. Is creating jobs a major focus?
A. We have suggested a roadmap for improving productivity in all areas, from apparel and footwear to electronics, tourism, real estate, food processing and gems. China’s annual exports in the apparel industry are worth $80 billion while ours are worth $17 billion. In footwear, we do about $4 billion while China does $55 billion, despite our low wages.
Q. And urban development?
A. Housing is the main focus. We have to make it affordable by bringing down land costs. We are suggesting the use of vacant lands of ministries like railways and defence and PSUs for housing, as well as to make it easier to convert land on the peripheries of towns and cities.
Q. What are the other areas of concern?
A. We have recommended replacing the flood irrigation method with micro irrigation so that there is no further depletion of ground water. We are doing significant work to solve the problem of non-performing assets of banks.