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NITI Aayog replaces Planning Commission ; PM Narendra Modi says it plans to bid farewell to ‘one size fits all’ approach

New Delhi(PTI): The 65-year-old Planning Commission was replaced on Thursday by a new body, NITI Aayog, that will be headed by the Prime Minister, while all chief ministers will be on its governing council to evolve national development priorities with the involvement of states.

Unlike its predecessor, NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India), will have all Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors on its Governing Council in the spirit of cooperative federalism, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on the new body. “Having served as a CM (Chief Minister) in the past, I am very much aware of the importance of actively consulting the states. NITI Aayog does precisely that,” tweeted Modi, who had in his Independence Day speech mooted the idea of replacing the Commission with a new and more relevant body.

“Through the NITI Aayog we wish to ensure that every individual can enjoy the fruits of development & aspire to lead a better life (inclusive growth),” he said. The body will have a Vice Chairperson and CEO in addition to five full-time members and two part-time members, while four union ministers would serve as ex-officio members. Noted economist Arvind Panagariya is tipped to be first Vice-Chairman of the Niti Aayog. Modi in his tweet said, “A pro-people, pro-active & participative development agenda stressing on empowerment & equality is the guiding principle behind NITI Aayog. Through NITI Aayog, we bid farewell to a ‘one size fits all’ approach towards development. The body celebrates India’s diversity & plurality.” The NITI Aayog, he hoped, will emerge as an active and important institution that will play a pivotal role in India’s development journey in the years to come. It will provide key inputs on various policy matters.

According to a statement, the new body will form regional Councils to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region. The regional councils will comprise the Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors in the region. These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee. The NITI Aayog will also have experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister.

The two part-time members of the new body would be from leading universities and research organisations. The body will serve as a ‘Think Tank’ of the government as “a directional and policy dynamo” and would provide the governments at the Centre and in states with strategic and technical advice on key policy matters including economic issues of national and international importance, the official statement said. The government has set up the new body through a Cabinet Resolution, wherein it has invoked words of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar, Swami Vivekanand and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.

As per the Resolution, the NITI Aayog will provide a ‘national agenda’ for the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers to foster cooperative federalism while recognising that “strong states make a strong nation”. It will also interact with other national and international Think Tanks, as also with educational and policy research institutions. The NITI Aayog has been set up after extensive consultations across the spectrum of stakeholders including states, domain experts and relevant institutions. The new body has been set up by a resolution of Union Cabinet as done in case of Planning Commission which was established on March 15, 1950.