The Indian government on Sunday discussed its draft 15-year vision plan with several state chief ministers to catapult the country's economy to more than three times it is today. The new plan is set to replace the centralised five-year plans the country has been following for decades.
Drawn up by the National Institution for Transforming India (Niti Aayog), the central government's main planning body, the plan includes inputs from both state and central ministries, NITI Aayog Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya, said at its third governing council meeting on Sunday. India's 12th Five-Year Plan, the last one, ended on March 31.
The new plan will be accompanied by shorter sub-plans – a seven-year strategy for 2017-24, and a three-year 'Action Agenda' from 2017-18 to 2019-20. No less than 300 specific action points covering a wide range of sectors have been drawn up as part of the 15-year vision. However, specific details of those action points haven't been made public yet. According to an official statement Panagariya "gave an outline of the draft action agenda circulated at the meeting, which had been prepared with inputs from the states."
"The future looks extremely bright...There is a very good case that we should over the next 15-16 years grow at 8 per cent," HT reported Panagariya as saying.
Here are nine highlights of the vision plan and some suggestions that have been made at its third governing council meeting:
India aims to more than triple the size of its economy in 15 years with gross domestic product (GDP) expected to rise to ₹469 lakh crores from ₹137 lakh crore in 2015-16, Panagariya said. Per capita GDP is expected to rise by three times to ₹3,14, 667 in 2015-2016.
States To Have A Bigger Role
NITI Aayog plans to work closely with states to boost infrastructure and services, including regions that require special attention. The government made a big push for Goods and Services Tax (GST), urging the state governments to speed up the legislation of state GST bills. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also asked states, local governments and NGOs to come up with goals for 2022 and work urgently towards achieving them. The agreement on GST reflects the spirit of 'one nation, one aspiration, one determination', Modi said at the meeting.
The 15-year vision document has a seven-year strategy document for 2017-24 as the 'National Development Agenda.' Separately, a three-year 'Action Agenda' from 2017-18 to 2019-20 is also under works to assess funding requirements. The three-year agenda is further divided into seven parts, with a number of specific action points for each part to boost economic growth. The plan also includes internal security and defence. Niti Aayog tweeted:
India's urban population is expected to increase by 22 crores by 2031, according to the government, and the plan is likely to lay emphasis on urban development. The plan appears to have taken a cue from China's elaborate long-term development agenda, which saw urbanisation increase by 31 crores in the past 15 years.
An NGO portal
The plan includes the development of an NGO-focused portal NGO-Darpan portal, to be used by 35 departments and 27,214 NGOs. According to the draft presentation, no grants to NGO will be allowed without a unique ID from the portal. Pan and Aadhaar number of office bearers has also been made mandatory for NGO registration.
Sustainable Development Goals
The plan envisages a central body for overseeing the implementation of sustainable development goals. The government is in the middle of draft mapping of specific goals with central ministries along with consultation with the states. Specific goals will cover clean water, removing hunger, climate efforts, responsible consumption, clean energy, quality education, reduced inequality, and gender equality, among others.
Role of Niti Aayog
The Niti Aayog will work as a "collaborative federal body whose strength is in its ideas, rather than in administrative or financial control," an official statement said citing Modi. While emphasising partnership with states, Niti Aayog's CEO Amitabh Kant said the development would take place within the framework of cooperative and competitive federalism and that states should treat Niti Aayog as their outpost in Delhi. Niti Aayog doesn't entirely rely on government inputs. It has "taken on board" young specialists and experts, Niti Aayog tweeted, adding that states will now contribute to policy making.
Modi asked the states to switch the current financial year to January-December to better align it with the agriculture income reporting. According to him, a country where agricultural income is exceedingly important, budgets should be prepared immediately after the receipt of agricultural incomes for the year.
Modi has also asked the states to further discuss and debate the possibility of holding simultaneous elections aimed at improving larger economic management in the country. "Because of poor time management, many good initiatives and schemes had failed to deliver the anticipated results," he said, adding there is a need to develop robust arrangements that could function amidst diversity.
With PTI inputs