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GS Paper III

NITI Aayog

The NITI Aayog (Hindi for Policy Commission) (abbreviation for National Institution for Transforming India) is a policy think tank of the Government of India, established with the aim to achieve sustainable development goals with cooperative federalism by fostering the involvement of State Governments of India in the economic policy-making process using a bottom-up approach. Its initiatives include “15-year road map”, “7-year vision, strategy, and action plan”, AMRUT, Digital India, Atal Innovation Mission, Medical Education Reform, agriculture reforms (Model Land Leasing Law, Reforms of the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act, Agricultural Marketing and Farmer Friendly Reforms Index for ranking states), Indices Measuring States’ Performance in Health, Education and Water Management, Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Rationalization of Centrally Sponsored Schemes, Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Sub-Group of Chief Ministers on Skill Development, Task Forces on Agriculture and up of Poverty, and Transforming India Lecture Series.

It was established in 2015, by the NDA government, to replace the Planning Commission which followed a top-down model. The NITI Aayog council comprises all the state Chief Ministers, along with the Chief Ministers of Delhi and Puducherry, the Lieutenant Governor of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and a vice-chairman nominated by the Prime Minister. In addition, temporary members are selected from leading universities and research institutions. These members include a chief executive officer, four ex-official members, and two part-time members.

29 May 2014, Independent Evaluation Office submitted an assessment report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the recommendation to replace the Planning Commission with a “control commission.” On 13 August 2014, the Union Cabinet scrapped the Planning Commission, to be replaced with a diluted version of the National Advisory Council (NAC) of India. On 1 January 2015, a Cabinet resolution was passed to replace the Planning Commission with the newly formed NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India). Union Government of India announced the formation of NITI Aayog on 1 January 2015. The first meeting of NITI Aayog was chaired by Narendra Modi on 8 February 2015.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley made the following observation on the necessity of creating NITI Aayog, “The 65-year-old Planning Commission had become a redundant organisation. It was relevant in a command economy structure, but not any longer. India is a diversified country and its states are in various phases of economic development along with their own strengths and weaknesses. In this context, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to economic planning is obsolete. It cannot make India competitive in today’s global economy.” It is a reformation scheme of the day-to-day lifestyles of the people of India.

Objectives of NITI

  1. To evolve a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors, and strategies with the active involvement of States in the light of national objectives.
  2. To foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation.
  3. To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government.
  4. To ensure, on areas that are specifically referred to it, that the interests of national security are incorporated in economic strategy and policy.
  5. To pay special attention to the sections of our society that may be at risk of not benefiting adequately from economic progress.
  6. To design strategic and long term policy and programme frameworks and initiatives, and monitor their progress and their efficacy. The lessons learnt through monitoring and feedback will be used for making innovative improvements, including necessary mid-course corrections.
  7. To provide advice and encourage partnerships between key stakeholders and national and international like-minded Think tanks, as well as educational and policy research institutions.
  8. To create a knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurial support system through a collaborative community of national and international experts, practitioners and other partners.
  9. To offer a platform for resolution of inter-sectoral and inter-departmental issues in order to accelerate the implementation of the development agenda.
  10. To maintain a state-of-the-art Resource Centre, be a repository of research on good governance and best practices in sustainable and equitable development as well as help their dissemination to stake-holders.
  11. To actively monitor and evaluate the implementation of programmes and initiatives, including the identification of the needed resources so as to strengthen the probability of success and scope of delivery.
  12. To focus on technology up-gradation and capacity building for the implementation of programmes and initiatives.
  13. To undertake other activities as may be necessary in order to further the execution of the national development agenda and the objectives mentioned above.

NITI Lectures

NITI Aayog has started a new initiative on the advice of Prime Minister Narendra Modi called NITI Lectures: Transforming India. The aim of this initiative is to invite globally reputed policymakers, experts, administrators to India to share their knowledge, expertise, experience in policymaking and good governance with Indian counterparts. This initiative will be a series of lectures started with first lecture[4] delivered by Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam. He delivered a lecture on the subject called “India and the Global Economy” at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. The Prime Minister spoke about the idea behind this lecture series and stated that his vision for India is rapid transformation, not a gradual evolution.

On 31 August 2017, NITI Aayog developed a State Statistics Handbook that consolidates key statistics across sectors for every Indian State/UT. While the State data on crucial indicators are currently fragmented across different sources, this handbook provides a one-stop database of important State statistics


NITI Aayog has taken initiative on Blockchain usages in E-governance and has conceptualized the tech stack as ‘IndiaChain’.[7] IndiaChain is the name given to Niti Aayog’s ambitious project to develop a nation-wide blockchain network.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, blockchain and big data hold potential to take India to new heights— Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the 2016 World Economic Forum.

The vision is to link IndiaChain with IndiaStack, the digital infrastructure that forms the backbone of the Aadhar project. The NITI Aayog initiative on the blockchain system will enforce contracts quicker, prevent fraudulent transactions, and help farmers through the efficient disbursement of subsidies. This project is the first step to a larger system of record-keeping and public good disbursement.

NITI Aayog is developing a job portal to connect employers with workers who have returned to their home states due to nationwide lockdown.

Other initiatives of NITI

Student Entrepreneurship Programme

The Student Entrepreneurship Programme (SEP) 1.0 was launched in 2019 while the SEP 2.0 launched in 2020 aimed to convert the grassroots innovations of Atal Tinkering Lab (ATL) students into end products. The SEP 2.0 which was launched in 2020 provided the opportunity to the students of ATL to work with Dell volunteers and to get mentor support, end-user feedback, manufacturing support and launch support of their products in the market. The scheme would be launched and run by “Atal Innovation Mission” (AIM) under NITI Aayog in association with Dell technologies.


The NITI Aayog comprises the following:

  • The Prime Minister as the Chairperson.
  • Governing Council composed of Chief Ministers of all the States and Union territories with Legislatures and lieutenant governors of Union Territories(except Delhi and Pondicherry)
  • Regional Councils composed of Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region.
  • Full-time organizational framework composed of a Vice-Chairperson, four full-time members, two part-time members (from leading universities, research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity), four ex-officio members of the Union Council of Ministers, a Chief Executive Officer (with the rank of Secretary to the Government of India) who look after administration, and a secretariat.
  • Experts and specialists in various fields.

With the Prime Minister as the Chairperson, presently NITI Aayog consists of:

  • Vice Chairperson: Rajiv Kumar
  • Ex-Officio Members: Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Nirmala Sitaraman and Narendra Singh Tomar 
  • Special Invitees: Nitin Gadkari, Piyush Goyal, Thawar Chand Gehlot and Rao Inderjit Singh 
  • Full-time Members: V. K. Saraswat (former DRDO Chief), Ramesh Chand (Agriculture Expert) and Dr Vinod Paul (Public Health expert)
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): Amitabh Kant
  • Governing Council: All Chief Ministers of States (and Delhi and Puducherry), Lieutenant Governor of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, and Special Invites

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