[Answered] Since its inception, NITI Aayog has been instrumental in promoting competitive and cooperative federalism. Elaborate. Also, suggest, what more NITI Aayog can do towards achieving its objectives?

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Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain how NITI Aayog has been instrumental in promoting competitive and cooperative federalism.  Also, suggest some points where NITI Aayog can do more towards achieving its objectives.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Planning Commission was replaced by a new institution – NITI AAYYOG on January 1, 2015 with emphasis on ‘Bottom –Up’ approach to fulfil the vision of Maximum Governance, Minimum Government. NITI Aayog has the twin mandate to oversee the adoption and monitoring of the SDGs in the country and promote competitive and cooperative federalism among States and UTs.

Promotes competitive federalism:

  • It encourages healthy competition among states through transparent rankings, in various sectors like State Health Index, Composite Water Management Index, Sustainable Development Goals Index, India Innovation Index and Export Competitiveness Index.
  • NITI Aayog works closely with all stakeholders, including the State/UT Governments. It helps in smooth implementation of central government programs.

Promotes cooperative federalism:

  • NITI Aayog organises the annual meeting of the Governing Council (GC), which brings together chief ministers/Lieutenant-governors of the states/UTs to discuss inter-sectoral, inter-departmental and federal issues. It accelerates the implementation of the National Development Agenda.
  • Sharing of best practices; policy support and capacity development of State/UT functionaries; theme-based extensive engagements in various sectors; agriculture marketing reforms; and area-specific interventions for the North-Eastern and Himalayan States and island development.
  • Providing relevant technical advice to the Centre, States and UTs.
  • It implements social programs like Project SATH-E in the states, to help them in social development. It strengthens trust of states in the central institutions.

What more NITI Aayog can do?

  • Achieving income convergence across states: NITI Aayog needs to address this through improved governance structures, adequate financial development and infrastructure.
  • Addressing significant inter-state and inter-district variations: NITI Aayog must focus on guiding state governments in replicating the Aspirational Districts Programme (ADP) at the block level and for districts not categorised as aspirational.
  • Better managed urbanisation: There is a need to tap into resources other than government budgets, such as monetising land assets and engaging private capital in service delivery.
  • Decarbonisation challenge: The states have urgent need to create millions of new jobs, increase incomes and improve public health. NITI Aayog is well-positioned to generate such a conversation and should guide states to catalyse climate action.
  • NITI Aayog must act as an intermediary between the Centre and states to ensure use of advanced technology using blockchain and AI, development of social registry, implementation of PM Gati Shakti, etc.

India’s growth is that of its states and UTs. For India to remain one of the fastest-growing major economies, states must identify their strengths. NITI Aayog must ensure productive engagement and dialogue with the states to develop a growth roadmap.

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