‘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

India Today - - UPFRONT -

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.

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