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.