Niti Aayog Works For National Interest, Says Amitabh Kant
In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld, Amitabh Kant, CEO, Niti Aayog, speaks about the range of issues varying from GST to farmers’ distress
Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma
It has been a long time task for Government of India, transforming planning commission to Niti Aayog. In an exclusive interview with BW Businessworld's Avishek Banerjee and Prabodh Krishna, Amitabh Kant, Chief Executive Officer, Niti Aayog, spoke about the range of issues varying from GST to farmers’ distress.
How do you see your institution transforming itself from Planning Commission to Niti Aayog? What will be its future in terms of the planning process and implementation thereafter in the next one decade or two decades?
Niti Aayog has moved away from 5-year plans to a 15-year vision document, a 7-year strategy document, and a 3-year action plan which has been put up on the website. That is a forward-looking and progressive document which the govt. is moving forward with. We had active consultations with various chief ministers of various states and have sought their inputs before coming out with an action plan. We have become very action oriented and are doing a lot in terms of partnerships with various states. We are driving a ranking of states across education, water management, health, agriculture, etc. We are also very keen to transform several states in terms of education and health and have selected five states on the same.
Do you think Rs 10 lakh will be sufficient for every Atal Tinkering Lab for 5 years? Moreover, for Rs 10 crore earmarked for Atal incubation centres for 5 years, what are the standards of selection?
We are supporting tinkering labs and give hi-tech equipment worth Rs 20 lakh and include 3D Machines, Robots, etc. For the 6th standard student, they need equipment and not money. In addition to that, we give Rs. 2 lakh per year for five years for recurring expenditures of teachers, etc. They will be provided dedicated teachers who can assist them in using the equipment. Apart from expenditure support, we also provide mentoring sessions to them. We also link these entrepreneurs to these tinkering labs. For incubation centres, we will be doing the selection process in a very transparent manner. We have invited 15,000 applications last year and shave selected 5,000 schools for incubation centres and this year, we have invited from schools all across India and would be handpicking around 1,000 of them.
How will you manage a huge volume of follow-ups in these applications?
We have an Atal Innovation Mission which is headed by a distinguished person Ramanathan Ramanan, a senior executive of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). He is heading a team of the young and dedicated bunch of people. They need to do outcome-based monitoring. So I think all that is well in place.
Of late, organisations like RSS and Swadeshi Jagran Manch are up in arms against Niti Aayog? So what are you actually doing to carry them along and bring them on the same page where you are?
Niti Aayog, which works for national interests, sometimes tries to push the pace on technology, disruption, etc. There may be some difference of opinion and we are always open to interaction. If we are making a mistake, we will correct it and also change the mind of others. Our end objectives are to fasten the speed of development of this country. We are absolutely confident of bringing everybody on the same page in larger interests of the progress of our nation. Everybody who works for national interest is on the same page.
How are you going to scale up the rate of employment growth?
If you look at the (employment) growth of road, rail, civil aviation and power sectors, it has been positive. If you look at EPFO, ESIC and other data, they present a very different picture. India is a very happening economy and we just need to ensure the private sector grows at a rapid pace.
What is Niti Aayog doing toward reducing the number of farmer suicides?
These suicides have been happening at various places. There are also places where production levels are quite high. We are taking steps to ensure that the agricultural sector is done away with middlemen. We would make sure that they get the best price for their produce. They should be able to get fertilisers and seeds on time. We want to improve their overall productivity levels go up.
GST has been a great move. But why is there a sense of unpreparedness? Are you happy with the progress on the GST front?
What makes you think that we are not prepared? In fact, the govt is fully prepared. GST is a must and you have seen that Octroi posts have been broken down. You have seen the speed at which the buses travel from 200 to 400kms a day, from 20-40kms an hour. GST is necessary to ensure that out the tax to GDP ratio going at a higher rate.
You have recommended divestment of Air India. Are you happy with the progress?
We are a recommending body and have made our recommendations. The implementation will be done by Department of Investment and Public Asset Management (DIPAM) and The Minister of Civil Aviation.
So you think your Vision 2020 can be achieved?
Yes, why not!