NEW DELHI: Having seemingly left scripting action agenda for transformation of the country on the backburner, NITI Aayog has slotted itself as an evaluator of the performances of the states, as it works on indexing on four fronts - water management, education, hospitals, and digital transactions.
Searching for ideas to showcase achievements of four years of the Narendra Modi led NDA government at the Centre, NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar sought to put up a brave face on Tuesday saying the successor of the Planning Commission is not a think tank but an "action tank".
His remark is seemingly in contrast to Modi setting out tasks to script short, medium and long-term action agenda for the country when NITI Aayog was unveiled in 2015. Kumar listed out NITI Aayog's roles in meeting the task of doubling farmers' income, cooperative federalism, incubating innovations through
"Atal Tinkering Labs in schools", promoting digital transactions, and administrative interventions to maximise reach of Central schemes in 105 aspirational districts. Besides, NITI Aayog also drummed achievements in drawing list of loss making public sector units for disinvestment.
However, NITI Aayog remains silent on its principal mandate to draw up plan agenda, particularly when the 12th five year plan lapsed last year. The third Governing Council meeting called by Prime Minister had failed to adopt the "Three Years Action Plan", which had been readied by the first vice chairman of the entity Arvind Panagariya.
The fourth Governing Council meeting last month set out discussions on key schemes and initiatives of the Central government than revising the action plan. Panagariya's another initiative to unveil a robust legislative framework in the form of the National Medical Commission Bill to replace the Medical Council of India (MCI) continues to hang in balance.
Kumar after assuming charge of the NITI Aayog had set out to script the "Development Agenda 2022", which also appears to have been pushed into the shadow, with the NDA government bracing up for the Lok Sabha elections next year. In place, NITI Aayog has taken upon itself the role to evaluate the performances of the state government on a few of the parameters and come out with ranking on issues of water management, district hospitals, digital transaction index, and education infrastructure. But NITI Aayog is left with no power to incentivise, as it cannot influence fund transfer to any of the states as had been the case with its predecessor Planning Commission.