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Little Consensus at the NITI Aayog’s Annual Meeting

Little Consensus at the NITI Aayog’s Annual Meeting

The NITI Aayog's annual meeting concluded with much fireworks and little consensus

The NITI Aayog's annual meeting concluded with much fireworks and little consensus The NITI Aayog's annual meeting concluded with much fireworks and little consensus

The government’s policy-focussed think tank NITI Aayog held its 7th Governing Council meeting in-person on August 7, after the previous two were held online due to the pandemic. On the agenda were issues such as crop diversification, self-sufficiency in pulses, oilseeds and other agri-commodities, and urban governance along with the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP).

The meeting—chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and attended by the chief ministers of 23 states and lieutenant governors and administrators of three and two union territories, respectively, along with assorted union ministers and officials of the Aayog—highlighted the widening gulf between the central and state governments. For starters, K. Chandrashekar Rao, CM of Telangana, boycotted the meeting, alleging that states were not being treated as equal partners. Similarly, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar also skipped it citing Covid-19 as the concern, but in light of recent developments in Bihar’s politics, observers have said that the reason might have been different.

While PM Modi stressed on the importance of agricultural diversification in India’s food security, Maharashtra CM Eknath Shinde asked for the procurement limit of agri-products under the minimum support price scheme to be increased to 50 per cent of production. NITI Aayog Member Ramesh Chand said at the meeting’s media briefing that the PM also reminded the states that India was importing edible oil worth `1 lakh crore annually, and that dependency on imports needed to be curbed. Chand added that the states presented their own road maps for crop diversification via incentivising farmers to shift to pulses and oilseeds, and highlighted the rise in the production of these crops.

PM Modi also asked the states to develop a time-bound road map for the implementation of NEP, and focus on promoting trade, tourism and technology. He even called for collective action to increase GST collections. On the other hand, Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel sought a five-year extension of the GST compensation to be paid to states, while Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik said that NITI Aayog could play the role of an ombudsman to resolve disputes between the states and the Centre in the implementation of central schemes.

To conclude the meeting, recently appointed CEO of the think tank, Parameswaran Iyer, said that the Aayog will intensify its efforts to become a holistic platform for the Centre and states to find middle ground on various outstanding issues.

 

@RajatMishra9518