IN­TER­VIEW

Mint ST - - VIEWS -

NITI Aayog is a gov­ern­ment think tank and it works for the gov­ern­ment. It helps the gov­ern­ment to get new ideas and make poli­cies. It also helps the gov­ern­ment with feed­back from the ground that it col­lects. In that sense, NITI Aayog is in­de­pen­dent to do all of these things on the ba­sis of ob­jec­tive cri­te­ria. But of course, you can­not ex­pect NITI Aayog to be overly crit­i­cal of the gov­ern­ment. What­ever feed­back we need to give, we can give with­out go­ing to the pub­lic. NITI Aayog’s au­ton­omy is like that of the Re­serve Bank of In­dia, which is also part of the macro team. We all are au­ton­o­mous and in­de­pen­dent, but we do have to main­tain dig­nity and hon­our. We have never shied away from us­ing or pub­lish­ing data as we think is right. In the wa­ter in­dex that we brought out, we said that In­dia is fac­ing acute wa­ter short­age (bit.ly/2s6i­bru). In the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment goals in­dex, the top­pers (Hi­machal Pradesh, Ker­ala and Tamil Nadu) are not ruled by the party at the cen­tre. Isn’t this proof

I am glad Dr Kelkar had said that we do not want to re­turn to the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion days. I do not think that is re­quired. In some sense, it be­comes dys­func­tional and the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment too had rec­og­nized it. I have been on this job for about 17 months. I have seen that the trans­fer of ex­tra 10% (of the di­vis­i­ble pool of cen­tre’s tax rev­enue) to the states by the cen­tre has not re­sulted in the level of in­fra­struc­ture devel­op­ment in the rel­a­tively back­ward states that is re­quired. A lot of that fund has been used up for rev­enue spend­ing. Dr Kelkar, in my view, is right that ad­di­tional re­sources will not re­sult in bal­anced devel­op­ment. I agree with him that it will be use­ful for

I think the boost to con­sump­tion is ac­tu­ally re­quired and, be­cause there is still an out­put gap in the econ­omy, the ex­ist­ing rate of growth is below its po­ten­tial rate of growth, and there is enough ca­pac­ity in the sys­tem for it to ab­sorb. More im­por­tantly, there are signs that some ca­pac­ity ex­pan­sion is al­ready be­gin­ning to hap­pen. This boost to con­sump­tion will give a strong fil­lip to in­vest­ment ac­tiv­ity. I think the sup­ply side re­sponse will be suf­fi­cient to pre­vent any in­fla­tion­ary pres­sures from ris­ing.

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