SEATTLE — The National Institute for Transforming India, also known as NITI Aayog, is a policy think tank of the government of India, formed on January 1, 2015. It aims to achieve the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals and address the needs and aspirations of citizens in a more effective way. Its premiere policy has devised a few systematic approaches to achieve the goals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of New India 2022. These include the Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme, the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015 and Empowering Farmers.
The Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme
The United Nations Development Programme, in its 2016 Human Development Index report, revealed that India ranks 131st out of 188 countries. The data highlights the states that have shown little progress in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Tendulkar Poverty Estimates of 2011-12 show that the states of Uttarakhand and Bihar are the worst affected, with 59.82 million and 35.82 million living below the poverty line respectively. The other states on the list include Maharashtra, Manipur, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, among many others.
NITI Aayog’s new venture, Transformation of Aspirational Districts, aims to uplift the population in these states by focusing on at least one poverty-stricken district in each state. Prime Minister Modi believes that “when the socioeconomic conditions improve in the 100 most backward districts, it would give a big boost to overall development of the country.”
The Transformation of Aspirational Districts Programme identified 115 districts from the 28 states of India by collecting data on key index factors such as socioeconomic caste census, overall health, educational development and development of basic infrastructure. The mission of the policy is “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”, which means “all-inclusive growth for all”. The goal is to ensure optimum participation of people from all walks of life in building the economy of the nation.
The methodology that it adopts for measuring the change is designed “to monitor the real-time progress of aspirational districts based on 49 indicators (81 data-points) from the 5 identified thematic areas.” For this, NITI Aayog, in partnership with the government of Andhra Pradesh, has created a dashboard which tracks progress. According to the reports, districts will be ranked according to their progress at the beginning of May 2018 and the program will continue its work towards achieving the goals envisioned for New India 2022.
National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015
Skill development ensures better employment and better employment ensures better economic productivity. This is the idea stressed by the National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship 2015. Though 22 percent of the population in India lives below the poverty line, the country has the “demographic advantage” of having a large number of population in the working-class age group. If this population is educated and trained effectively, it will not only enhance the standard of living of all people but also multiply economic growth both within and outside the country.
The technique, however, is not free of challenges. One of the biggest questions is how skill development will continue to meet the demands of growing economies. But if the government finds a systematic approach to tackling these challenges, the country will experience tremendous growth for another 20-25 years because of its demographic advantage.
The policy also outlines the importance of focusing on the marginalized sections of society, as it will take into consideration the disabled population and women along with the poor. Sunita Sanghi and A. Srija, the adviser and director of the programme at NITI Aayog respectively, state that “the lack of access to education and training or the low quality or relevance of training keeps the vulnerable and marginalized sections into the vicious circle of low skills and low productive employment.”
The National Policy for Skill Development and Entrepreneurship plays a major role in realizing the aims of New India 2022, as it plans to train 104.62 million people and enhances the skills of an additional 460 million by 2022.
NITI Aayog Introduces Methods of Empowering Farmers
Agriculture is one of the major occupations in India. Around 58 percent of the rural population depends on agriculture for their livelihood and about 10 percent of the country’s exports come from the agricultural sector. As per reports published in October 2017, India is among the top 15 exporters of agricultural products in the world. But the irony is that India is also a land where farmers often commit suicide due to poverty.
The government has been introducing various programs to prevent farmer suicides, the most recent one being Prime Minister Modi’s promise to double farm income by 2022. He assures that farmers will be compensated with cash if the market prices of crops go down. The aim is to provide farmers with at least 50 percent more than the cost of production. Others include the purchase of crops by government agencies at support prices and providing incentives to private companies to buy produce directly from farmers.
Thus, with new innovative techniques and practices on the way, NITI Aayog is set to transform India. In fact, progress has already been seen in the improvement of employment opportunities. In April 2018, the premiere policy announced that it had created 3.5 million new jobs in six months, from September 2017 to February 2018. New India 2022 aims to lay the foundation to free the country from six major problems–poverty, dirt, corruption, terrorism, casteism and communalism–by 2022, the year the country celebrates its 75th Independence Day.
– Shruthi Nair