A NEW NITI AAYOG?
Former finance secretary and ex-finance commission chairman Vijay Kelkar has suggested a revamp of Niti Aayog and creating a new organisation which, unlike the present avatar, can allocate capital and revenue grants to the states. Interestingly, the suggestion has come less than five years after the government replaced the Planning Commission with the Niti Aayog. Mr Kelkar has argued in a paper that the proposed new entity be used to do the job at hand related to structural issues including removal of regional imbalances in the economy. He has noted that replacing the Planning Commission, which was promoting regionally balanced growth in India, by the Niti Aayog, a think tank, has reduced the government’s policy reach. The think tank does not have powers to allocate funds and can only make recommendations. Funding is the sole purview of the Finance Ministry, unlike with the Planning Commission. Secondly, it cannot impose policies for states to follow, again something where the Planning Commission had a strong say. Mr Kelkar has suggested that the Niti Aayog can be more effective if it is empowered to be part of the highest decision-making in the government. His version of the new Niti Aayog will provide the highest-level knowledgebased advice and provide a long-term perspective on policy proposals. Will the government take note?