Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stressed on moving away from a set template driven national development schemes in favour of those which tackle specific needs and requirements of separate states.
Chairing the first meeting of NITI Aayog, the newly formed body which replaced the decades old Planning Commission, during the weekend, he emphasised the need for cooperative federalism and a healthy competition for development among states.
The PM expressed hope that through 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.
Modi said that the country’s biggest challenge is how to eliminate poverty. He said jobs cannot be created, and poverty cannot be removed without growth. Therefore, he added, "first and foremost we should aim at a high rate of growth."
The PM noted that projects are often held up for want of timely decisions, and a project can get stuck at any stage in any forum.
Requesting the state chief ministers to give personal attention to factors which slow down projects he urged them to focus on the cycle of investment, growth, job creation and prosperity. He also suggested that an officer be identified in the state governments to monitor and ensure a smooth resolution of the pending issues so as to expedite project implementation.
The meeting was coordinated by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and was attended by chief ministers of all states besides economist Arvind Panagariya, who is the vice chairman of the body.
NITI Aayog, like its predecessor Planning Commission, is chaired by the PM. Soon after taking over as the PM, Narendra Modi had scrapped the previous body which traced its roots to the socialist era right after independence.
It was replaced with NITI Aayog or National Institution for Transforming India Aayog, to ensure greater participation of states in economic policy making in India.
Meanwhile, the first meeting of the NITI Aayog also threw up a plan to form three sub-groups of chief ministers. These groups would comprise chief ministers who have been given an option to first indicate their preference for their participation in one of the three units.
The first sub-group would study the 66 centrally sponsored development schemes and recommend which to continue, which to transfer to states, and which to cut down; the second would recommend measures to promote skill development; the third would decide on institutional mechanisms for pushing the Swachh Bharat or Clean India programme.
In his concluding remarks at the first meeting of the governing council of NITI Aayog, the PM also asked all states to create two task forces under the aegis of the NITI Aayog-one focusing on poverty alleviation, and the other on future development of agriculture in the state, and how the central government can assist the state in this regard.
He also urged all states to build and upgrade school toilets and suggested that a portion of the funds under the MPLAD and MLALAD schemes can be earmarked for cleanliness-related activities, until 2019.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)