Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called upon the Chief Ministers of various states to work with the Centre in order to build a model of cooperative federalism, whereby the Centre and the state government can come together to resolve differences and chart a common course to progress and prosperity.
Terming the first gathering of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog as the potential to bring about historic changes, Prime Minister Modi said that the meet would help advance the national cause 'as we jointly define it'.
Noting that India cannot advance without all its states advancing in tandem, the Prime Minister said the idea was to bring up all states together in the spirit of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas'. Prime Minister Modi added that he envisioned different states competing with each other in promoting governance initiatives, in a spirit of "cooperative, competitive federalism".
Prime Minister Modi emphasized on the high rate of growth to eradicate poverty. He said the world has started looking at India differently but 'our biggest challenge still is how to eliminate poverty'. Elaborating on this, he said jobs cannot be created and poverty cannot be removed without growth.
"Therefore, first and foremost we should aim at a high rate of growth," he added.
The Prime Minister also mentioned that the projects are often held up for want of timely decisions, and a project can get stuck at any stage in any forum. He said this prevents the people from getting benefits of the projects and also leads to cost escalation.
He requested the Chief Ministers to give personal attention to such factors which decelerate projects. He urged all the Chief Ministers to focus on the cycle of investment, growth, job creation and prosperity.
Prime Minister Modi suggested that an officer should be appointed in the state governments to monitor and ensure a smooth resolution of the pending issues so as to expedite the project implementation.
He also emphasized that the Centre wished to empower the states with finances, technology and knowledge so that planning and execution can be better.
He said the NITI Aayog provides for the appointment of Regional Councils with specific mandates for specific time periods. He hoped that these councils could help create cooperation among two or more states facing a common set of problems or amicably settle disputes that delay progress. He said these councils could catalyse joint projects involving travel, transportation and tourism across member states.
The Prime Minister expressed hope that through the mechanism of the NITI Aayog, India could move away from "one size fits all" schemes and build a better match between the schemes and the needs of the states. He said that for federalism to work well, states must also fulfil their role in promoting the shared national objectives.
Prime Minister Modi further said the critical element for cooperative federalism to flourish is that states should commit to the path they choose within the context of the shared national objectives and then deliver on that commitment.
Reflecting on the role of NITI Aayog as a think-tank, Prime Minister Modi said he sees great scope for states to learn from each other, work together among them and with the Centre. He said the best practices can be shared among states and a portal can be created through which state functionaries share their experiences.
The Prime Minister noted that in the last two and a half decade, the Indian economy has been transforming itself from a planned to a market economy.
He called upon the gathering to deliberate on how the planning process should be reshaped.
"Our focus on good governance is the need of the hour," Prime Minister Modi said.
"Whatever we do it should be well thought, it should be well-executed and it should have desired outcome," he added.