NEW DELHI: Almost three years after NITI Aayog’s formation, there is a growing concern in the think-tank panel that the Narendra Modi government is not showing enough appetite for crucial reforms in key sectors.
NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya has seemingly been passionate about the reconstitution of the Medical Council of India (MCI) in a bid to end the “lobby of medical professionals”. In an apparent case of NITI Aayog proposing and government pressing the pause button, the draft National Medical Commission Bill, 2016, which will replace the MCI, is now lying with a Group of Ministers (GoM), headed by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.
NITI Aayog was also mandated to lay the roadmap to overhaul the University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education. Both the bodies are yet to be restructured, as the roadmap continues to be work in progress.
“The NITI Aayog wanted to completely overhaul the medical education in the country and it was imperative that the existing MCI must be scrapped, and the management and administration be handed over to professionals in place of doctors. But the message that we gather from deliberations of the GoM is that majority of doctors on the proposed board is being asked to be ensured, which is against the very objective of drafting a new bill,” said a senior official of the NITI Aayog.
With millions of hectares of cultivable land lying fallow because of a law on tenancy, the Narendra Modi government had sought the NITI Aayog to script the much-needed reform in the agriculture sector. The model bill was drafted, but the government, in place of owning it up and asking the states to follow it, asked the NITI Aayog to persuade each of the state government to adopt the recommendations.
“Till date, only Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand have adopted the model land leasing bill, while other state governments have only offered promises. The end result is that the agriculture sector is not being helped with major institutional reform, which could have transformed the status of the marginal and small farmers, besides the economy of the country,” said a senior official of the think-tank panel.
Incidentally, NITI Aayog had succeeded the Planning Commission as an institution to lay the roadmap for national transformation and in line with its mandate, the panel in its draft “Three Years Action Plan” argued that the “loopholes in agricultural income being exploited for tax evasion be curbed”. “Finance Minister Arun Jaitley within 24 hours issued a statement, rejecting likelihood of any actions on recommendations of the NITI Aayog on tax evasions in the name of agricultural income,” said a top-ranking official of the NITI Aayog.