New Delhi: The sixth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held today under the chairmanship of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi via video conferencing. It was attended by 26 Chief Ministers, 3 Lieutenant Governors and 2 Administrators, apart from Union Ministers, who are Ex-Officio Members, and Special Invitees. NITI Aayog Vice Chairman, Members and CEO,Principal Secretary to the PM & other senior officers from PMO; Cabinet Secretary; and Chief Secretaries of States/ Union Territories also attended the meeting.The meeting was moderated by Raksha Mantri Shri Rajnath Singh.
Addressing the event, the Prime Minister said that Cooperative Federalism is the foundation of India’s progress. Cooperative and Competitive Federalism should be made more effective and taken to the district level, he said. Thecountry succeeded in managing the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic only because the Centre and the States worked together in a spirit of partnership.
As India stands close to completing 75 years of Independence, this Governing Council meeting assumes even more significance as it provides an opportunity to brainstorm and further strengthen Cooperative and Competitive Federalism, which are essential pillars for successful achievement of the national aspirations, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said that several concerted steps have been taken to empower the poor and bring about a noticeable change in their lives. Since 2014, more than 2 crore 40 lakh houses have been constructed in both cities and villages. Similarly, over 3.5 lakh rural houses have been provided with piped drinking water within 18 months of the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission. He added that the Bharat Net Scheme for internet connectivity in villages is bringing about transformational change. The Prime Minister said the Centre and States should work more closely on such schemes to improve ease of living for our citizens.
The Prime Minister said that the positive response to this year’s Union Budget reflects the mood of the nation. There is an all-round eagerness to push forward with economic development. He added that the private sector is coming forward with enthusiasm in the development journey of the country, and the Government must honour this enthusiasm by ensuring opportunities for the private investors to capitalize on the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan. He added that the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyaan is a step towards providing opportunities to everyone—to fulfil not only our own needs but also cater to the global demand for goods and services.
The Prime Minister emphasized on strengthening MSMEs and start-ups. Every State, every District, has its unique strengths, he added. He said products should be shortlisted from every District and promoted—this will create healthy competition among all Districts and States, which will help in boosting our exports. He said that the Aspirational Districts Programme implemented in partnership with States holds a unique example in this regard.
In his welcome remarks, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog, said that this forum enables the identification of key strategies for cohesive action. He reaffirmed NITI Aayog’s commitment to work tirelessly with States and Union Territories in the spirit of Cooperative Federalism. He added that national progress is contingent on the growth of all States/UTs. He stated that the Sixth Governing Council Meeting was unique as it brought together the country’s highest decision-makers on one platform. The Sixth Governing Council Meeting was preceded by a detailed interaction with senior State officials on 6 February 2021, the feedback for which was duly incorporated while curating the agenda of the meeting.
The Agenda for the Sixth Council Meeting comprised the following items:
1. Making India a Manufacturing Powerhouse
2. Reimagining Agriculture
3. Improving Physical Infrastructure
4. Accelerating Human Resources Development
5. Improving Service Delivery at Grassroots Level
6. Health and Nutrition
The Council deliberated on several steps for making India a manufacturing powerhouse, such as reducing compliance burden, initiating reforms at the State level, improving logistics, promoting exports through district-level competition and creating jobs. For improving physical infrastructure, the Chief Ministers expressed the need to raise public capital investment and completing projects under the National Infrastructure Pipeline, while enhancing investments in infrastructure through private and Public Private Partnerships, improving last-mile connectivity, reducing energy costs and configuring an enhanced and efficient role of States in project implementation.
States/UTs also mentioned efforts made to improve water accessibility, supply of quality and reliable power, internet connectivity andbandwidth availability, quality healthcare services, sustainable agricultural practices to mitigate the risks of climate change, undertake suitable reforms to build an advanced manufacturing and innovation ecosystem, thereby bolstering exports through the One District One Product initiative, apart from building on futuristic tech and inclusive governance models. The Chief Ministers also noted marked improvement in the development of physical infrastructure, including digital connectivity, across the North-Eastern region, along with a greater thrust on the Act East Policy, with the aim of providing impetus to the economies of the NE States.
Keeping in mind the aspirations of a young country like India, the Prime Minister stressed on the need to build modern infrastructure. He said the youth plays an important role in catalysing change in the country and cited the success of Digital India campaign to emphasise this point. Innovation must be encouraged, and more technology should be used to provide better opportunities for education and skill development.
The Governing Council Meeting seeks to build on the strength of every State so that everyone can learn from each other’s best practices. The Council members deliberated on strengthening institutions for skilling, reskilling, and upskilling of workforce. Focus was also laid on improving service delivery at the grassroots level, by ensuring digital infrastructure for the rural regions. Various Chief Ministers presented best practices from their respective States that can serve as templates for replication across the country.
The Prime Minister said policy frameworks and better coordination between the Centre and States are very important. He said the Centre and States must synchronise their budgets to ensure multiplier effect. Technology and community partnership are equally important.
The Prime Minister said the Central Government has introduced the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for various sectors, thus providing an excellent opportunity to increase manufacturing in the country. He urged the States to take full advantage of this scheme and attract maximum global investments and reap the benefits of reduced corporate tax rates.
The Prime Minister said geospatial data was liberalized recently, which would incentivise entrepreneurial endeavour, start-up innovation and the tech sector in general. Focus must be on ease-of-doing business for the international audience and on ease-of-living for our own people, he added.
Even though India is an agricultural economy, it still imports many inputs, the Prime Minister said. He stressed on becoming self-reliant in this area. There are many agricultural products that can be not only produced for the country but also supplied to the rest of the world.For this, he insisted, it is necessary that all States make an agro-climatic regional planning strategy.
The Prime Minister also urged focus on storage and processing of agricultural products to reduce wastage. Reforms are very important for farmers to get the necessary economic resources, better infrastructure and modern technology, he said.
The Prime Minister welcomed the rich discussion and constructive suggestions by the Council members, assuring that they would be carefully considered while taking decisions. He expressed confidence that with collective efforts, the aspirations of the people will be fulfilled.
This Governing Council meeting paved the way for synergies across all tiers of the Government, with substantial collaboration and cooperation in the Agenda items. The meeting provided an opportunity to address the objectives of advancing economic, social and demographic welfare.
About the Governing Council of NITI Aayog
The Governing Council of NITI Aayog comprises the Prime Minister of India, Chief Ministers of all the States and Union Territories with Legislature, Lt Governors of other UTs, Ex-Officio Members and Special Invitees. It is the premier body tasked with evolving a shared vision of national development priorities, sectors and strategies with the active involvement of States in shaping the development narrative. Including today, a total of Six meetings have been held so far.
NITI Aayog has been mandated with fostering Cooperative Federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognizing that strong States make a strong nation on the principles of ‘SabkaSaath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas’. It seeks to design and assist the implementation of strategic, long-term policy frameworks and programme initiatives, while monitoring their progress and efficacy. The Governing Council, which embodies these objectives of cooperative federalism, presents a platform to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues to accelerate the implementation of the national development agenda.