Seeking to make development a Jan Andolan, details key recommendations across growth drivers, infrastructure, inclusion and governance. The NITI Aayog unveiled its comprehensive national Strategy for New India, which defines clear objectives for 2022-23. It is a detailed exposition across forty-one crucial areas, that recognizes the progress already made, identifies binding constraints, and suggests the way forward for achieving the clearly stated objectives.
The ‘Strategy for New India @75’ indicated in a press conference by drawing inspiration and direction from the Prime Minister’s clarion call for establishing a New India by 2022, NITI Aayog embarked on a journey of formulating the Strategy document over the last year,being attended by the Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, in the presence of NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar, Members Dr Ramesh Chand and Dr VK Saraswat and CEO Shri Amitabh Kant.
In his foreword the Prime Minister says, “The Strategy for New India @75 put together by NITI Aayog is an attempt to bring innovation, technology, enterprise and efficient management together, at the core of policy formulation and implementation. It will encourage discussion and debate, and invite feedback for further refining our policy approach. We believe that economic transformation cannot happen without public participation. Development must become a Jan Andolan.”
This was followed by consultations at the level of the Vice Chairman with a diverse group of eminent persons from seven sets of stakeholders that included scientists and innovators, farmers, civil society organizations, think-tanks, labour representatives and trade unions, and industry representatives. Central Ministries were brought on board for inputs, suggestions and comments, with each draft of individual chapters being circulated for consultations. The draft document was also circulated to all the States and Union Territories from whom valuable suggestions were received and incorporated.
Over 800 stakeholders from within the government – central, state and district levels – and about 550 external experts were consulted during the preparation of the document.
The overarching focus of the Strategy document is to further improve the policy environment in which private investors and other stakeholders can contribute their fullest towards achieving the goals set out for New India 2022 and propel India towards a USD 5 trillion economy by 2030.
The forty-one chapters in the document have been disaggregated under four sections: Drivers, Infrastructure, Inclusion and Governance.
The first section on Drivers focuses on the engines of economic performance with chapters on growth and employment, doubling of farmers’ incomes; upgrading the science, technology and innovation eco-system; and promoting sunrise sectors like fintech and tourism.
Some of the key recommendations in the section on drivers include:
- Steadily accelerate the economy to achieve a GDP growth rate of about 8% on average during 2018-23. This will raise the economy’s size in real terms from USD 2.7trillion in 2017-18 to nearly USD 4 trillion by2022-23. Increase the investment rate as measured by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) from the present 29% to 36% of GDP by 2022.
- In agriculture, shift the emphasis to converting farmers to ‘agripreneurs’ by further expanding-National Agriculture Markets and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act with the Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing Act.
- Give a strong push to ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ techniques that reduce costs, improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes. This has emerged as a tested method for putting environment carbon back into the land.
- To ensure maximum employment creation, complete codification of labor laws and a massive effort must be made to upscale and expand apprenticeships.
- Launch a mission “Explore in India” by revamping minerals exploration and licensing policy.
The second section on Infrastructure deals with the physical foundations of growth which are crucial to enhancing the competitiveness of Indian business as also ensuring the citizens’ ease of living.
Some of the key recommendations in the section on infrastructure include:
- Expedite the establishment of the Rail Development Authority (RDA), which is already approved. RDA will advise or make informed decisions on an integrated, transparent and dynamic pricing mechanismfor the railways.
- Double the share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways. Initially, viability gap funding will be provided until the infrastructure is fully developed. Develop an IT-enabled platform for integrating different modes of transport and promoting multi-modal and digitized mobility.
- With the completion of the Bharat Net programme in 2019, all 2.5 lakh gram panchayats will be digitally connected. Aim to deliver all government services at the state, district, and gram panchayat level digitally by2022-23.
The section on Inclusion deals with the urgent task of investing in the capabilities of all of India’s citizens. The three themes in this section revolve around the dimensions of health, education and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalized sections of the population.
Some of the key recommendations in the section on inclusion include:
- Successfully implementing the Ayushman Bharat programme including the establishment of 150,000 health and wellness centres across the country, and rolling out the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Abhiyaan (PM-JAY).
- Create a focal point for public health at the central level with state counterparts. Promote integrative medicine curriculum.
- Upgrade the quality of the school education system and skills, including the creation of a new innovation ecosystem at the ground level by establishing at least 10,000 Atal Tinkering Labs by 2020.
- Conceptualize an electronic national educational registry for tracking each child’s learning outcomes.
- As already done in rural areas, give a huge push to affordable housing in urban areas to improve workers’ living conditions and ensure equity while providing a strong impetus to economic growth.
The final section on Governance delves deep into how the governance structures can be streamlined and processes optimized to achieve better developmental outcomes.
Some of the key recommendations in the section on governance include:
- Implement the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a preludeto appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and growing complexity of the economy.
- Set up a new autonomous body, viz., the Arbitration Council of India to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators to make the arbitration process cost effective and speedy, and to pre-empt the need for court intervention.
- Address the backlog of pending cases – shift part of workload out of regular court system.
- Expand the scope of Swachh Bharat Mission to cover initiatives for landfills, plastic waste and municipal waste and generating wealth from waste.