Emphasising on the need to empower the states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Sunday called upon states to forge a model of “cooperative federalism” to resolve differences even as he flagged poverty as India’s biggest challenge. Chairing the first meeting of the governing council of NITI Aayog, he said India cannot advance without all its states advancing in tandem, according to an official release. The NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting was known as ‘Team India’.
Modi added that he envisioned different states competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives in a spirit of “cooperative, competitive federalism”. NITI Aayog or ‘National Institution for Transforming India’ Aayog is a policy think-tank which has replaced the Planning Commission and aims to involve the states in economic policy-making. The prime minister announced the constituting of three sub-groups of chief ministers, members of which will be announced after the CMs give their preferences, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told mediapersons later.
While the first sub-group will decide which among the centrally-sponsored schemes in each state have to be continued and which are to be cut down, the second sub-group will go into what sort of measures are required for each state in the area of human resource development. The third sub-group will deal with the Clean India campaign, the finance minister said.
The prime minister also asked the states to constitute two task forces — one for poverty alleviation and the second to give a push to the agrarian sector, Jaitley added. Modi said the world has started looking at India differently, but “our biggest challenge still is how to eliminate poverty”. Observing that jobs cannot be created and poverty cannot be removed without growth, he said: “First and foremost, we should aim at a high rate of growth.”
Noting that projects are often held up for want of timely decisions, Modi asked chief ministers to give personal attention to such factors which slow down projects. Modi stressed that the central government wished to empower the states with finances, with technology and knowledge so that they are able to plan better and execute even better.
“For federalism to work well, states must also fulfill their role in promoting the shared national objectives,” he said. Reflecting on the role of NITI Aayog as a think-tank, the prime minister said he sees great scope for states to learn from each other, and work together among themselves as also with the central government.
He also expressed hope that through the mechanism of the NITI Aayog, India could move away from “one size fits all” schemes, and forge a better match between the schemes and the needs of the states. The interaction between the chief ministers was coordinated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the opening remarks for the meeting were made by the panel’s vice chairman Arvind Panagariya. There was no discussion at the Niti Aayog on the Union Budget, Jaitley said.