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Maggi effect? FSSAI chief moved to newly-created post in Niti Aayog

New Delhi: Food safety watchdog FSSAI’s CEO Yudhvir Singh Malik, the man behind the ban of global giant Nestle’s popular noodle brand Maggi, was today moved out and shifted as Additional Secretary in Niti Aayog.

Malik, a 1983 batch IAS officer of Haryana cadre, was appointed to the post of Chief Executive Officer in Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) under Health and Family Welfare Ministry, only in September last year.



The Appointments Committee of Cabinet(ACC) headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved the appointment of Malik as Additional Secretary in the Niti Aayog, an order issued by Personnel Ministry said.

He has been appointed in the newly created post by cancelling the appointment of Keshni Anand Arora, his batch mate from the same cadre.

It was during Malik’s tenure that samples of Maggi noodle samples were subjected to lab tests which found that it contained added Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and lead in excess of the permissible limit.

FSSAI had on 5 June banned the instant snack that has had a level of global resonance that’s unprecedented for the Indian food regulator.

However, the ban was later lifted by the Bombay High Court with the condition that manufacturing and selling would be allowed only after fresh tests.

The ACC also approved appointments of Kavita Gupta and Kiran Soni Gupta as Textile Commissioner and Additional Secretary and Financial Adviser in Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports respectively.


Niti Aayog’s administrative control over UIDAI shifted to IT Ministry

Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues Aadhaar cards.

The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), which issues Aadhaar cards, has been shifted to the administrative control of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology from Niti Aayog.The decision to shift UIDAI from Niti Aayog, which has replaced Planning Commission, has been taken keeping in mind the government’s ambitious ‘Digital India’ programme as the Aadhaar numbers are being linked with several services, official sources said.The issuance of Aadhaar cards, started by the then UPA government, has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court which recently held that the card would not be mandatory for availing benefits of government’s welfare schemes.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Cabinet Secretariat has amended Government of India (Allocation of Business) Rules, 1961 and put it under Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeITy), Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, a notification issued by the government said.Earlier, UIDAI was the part of Planning Commission. Niti Aayog is headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chairperson. Aadhaar is a 12-digit individual identification number issued by UIDAI.

Ahead of Bihar polls, land bill on back burner as Modi reaches out to farmers

At the Niti Aayog meeting, it was recommended that land acquisition should be left to states, since the subject was on the Concurrent List of the Constitution

Government would not re-promulgate the ordinance but will include compensation benefits for farmers in 13 more categories, said PM Modi

In a setback to its reforms timetable, the Modi government will allow the land acquisition ordinance, dubbed as anti-farmer by the Opposition, to lapse on Monday. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself announced that government would not re-promulgate the ordinance but will include compensation benefits for farmers in 13 more categories, which were exempted in 2013 Land Acquisition Act. In his ‘Mann ki baat’ address on Sunday morning, just hours before the NDA’s rivals–Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav– held a joint rally in Patna, Modi pledged his government’s commitment to concerns of farmers. In an apparent bid to counter the Opposition charge that the government was anti-farmer, Modi said rumours were being spread about the land ordinance and that he was open to suggestions to amend the law to benefit farmers. “For us, Jai Jawan, Jai Kisan was not just a slogan, but a mantra,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the high stake Bihar battle on the horizon, the government would rather wait for the report of Joint Parliamentary panel headed by BJP’s SS Ahluwalia on the bill, rather than risk political losses, according to sources. Besides, at the Niti Aayog meeting, it was recommended that land acquisition should be left to states, since the subject was on the Concurrent List of the Constitution. While the Opposition dubbed it as a step back under pressure from it, the ruling side described the decision not to repromulgate the ordinance for a third time as “political pragmatism”. Though the government has a comfortable majority in Lok Sabha, it is in a minority in the Upper House. With the entire Opposition against the bill, the government would have a thin majority to pass it in a joint session.At the rally, Nitish Kumar said Modi “had to step back. This is the biggest victory for people.”Refuting that the government had done a u-turn, BJP chief Amit Shah said the Prime Minister had thrown open the land acquisition issue for a debate. “The government had to step back because of a united opposition. The message that the government was anti-farmer and pro-corporate was not something it could have pulled through without political losses. Having a majority need not mean your political message is right,” said CPM plot bureau member Brinda Karat. The Modi government had taken the brazen it out approach on the land acquisition bill to send a clear message that it was determined to move ahead with its development agenda. The Prime Minister, according to sources, would prefer a central land acquisition law rather than leaving it to states which could lead to an imbalance in the country.The RSS affiliates, including the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh, had also expressed apprehensions about the contentious clauses of the bill. However, Prabhakar Kelkar of the BKS said leaving the law to states would mean depending on the discretion of government of the day. Uncertainty also looms over the April timeline of the other crucial component of the government’s reform agenda– the GST bill. According to sources, “no concrete progress” has been made on calling a special session.Govt’s stand on land ordinance ‘cruel joke’ on farmers: Yechury The CPI(M) on Sunday hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for deciding to allow the controversial land acquisition ordinance to lapse tomorrow, asking why the government promulgated the measure thrice earlier and termed it as a ‘cruel joke’ on farmers. “This is a cruel joke on the farmers. …. If the government is now allowing this ordinance to lapse, then why did they go for promulgating it thrice in an unprecedented manner,” CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.The decision to allow the land ordinance to lapse is “clearly a result of the popular people’s protests against this move by the government which forced Prime Minister Modi to succumb,” he told.

Congress dares PM Narendra Modi to make Naga Peace Accord public

Holding PM Modi guilty of “obstinacy, obscurity and arrogance”, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “PM Modi has chosen to keep the elected governments of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur in complete dark with no involvement either in the process of negotiation or finalisation of terms of peace agreement.”

PM Modi

Congress launched a frontal attack on the Modi government charging it for misleading the country on Naga peace accord and blamed the Prime Minister Modi for “breaching the principles of cooperative federalism with impunity”.To put its point forward it presented the three chief ministers of Congress ruled north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam who also lambasted the Central government for keeping them in total dark about the developments.Holding PM Modi guilty of “obstinacy, obscurity and arrogance”, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “PM Modi has chosen to keep the elected governments of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur in complete dark with no involvement either in the process of negotiation or finalisation of terms of peace agreement. What is appalling that that till date these elected governments neither have knowledge of terms of accord not have they been consulted.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Charging the PM with not informing the parliament the terms of accord, not holding an all-party meeting to discuss it and not even telling the contents to his own ministers and even the defence ministry, Congress dared the PM to make the terms of the Accord public. Attacking PM Modi, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, “My first objection is that it violates the democratic principles and parliamentary procedure by not taking approval of the cabinet. The PM does Man ki Baat with the whole nation but does not convey Mann ki Baat even to his cabinet colleagues.”Debunking the Accord, as was also reported by the dna, Gogoi said, “How the Naga interlocutor can be the signatory of the accord. His signatures do not have any validity. The Accord is valid only if the home secretary or joint or some other high official signs it on behalf of the government of India. Questioning government’s secretive silence on features of Accord, Gogoi asked Is it indeed an accord or not or as NSCN (IM) chief Muivah said the solution has not been arrived as yet. “If that is so then what is the great achievement?” Gogoi asked.Expressing shock the way the issue has been handled, Manipur chief minister Ibobi Singh said he was told by MoS Jitender Singh that was nothing but simply a framework of agreement. “The why PM said it is an Accord. The whole of Manipur was agitated for not keeping them informed and forcing the accord on them,” said Ibobi Singh.The three chief ministers and Surjewala also charged BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman of telling blatant lies by asserting that the chief ministers were called for a meeting in Niti Aayog to discuss the peace agreement. Putting documents on record, both Ibobi Singh and Gogoi said, neither through any written letter not orally they were told such a thing. “We refused to take part in the Niti Aayog meeting as it called to discuss Land Acquisition bill which we are boycotting. The same day all the chief ministers of northeast were called but no agenda for the meeting was communicated. We boycotted that meeting also because of complete indifference on account of PM to grant audience for full six months on the issue to discuss special status for NE states,” they said.

AIPMT row: Probe on into CBSE complaints over ‘paper leak’ emails

Bhardwaj said that the candidate’s father, an official in NITI Aayog, had sent an email from her ID stating that some people might leak the paper of AIPMT on July 24.
Representational Image
dna Research & Archives
Investigation was underway into the complaint filed by CBSE against three persons for sending emails on the eve of July 25 re-examination of AIPMT, fuelling rumour of a possible paper leak, Delhi Police said on Tuesday.The complaint was lodged yesterday by CBSE OSD Sanyam Bhardwaj against three persons including an AIPMT candidate, who was the petitioner in the case in which the Supreme Court had quashed AIPMT 2015 held on May 3, directing CBSE to hold the test again.Bhardwaj said that the candidate’s father, an official in NITI Aayog, had sent an email from her ID stating that some people might leak the paper of AIPMT on July 24.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>When the Board officials contacted him, he claimed that his information was based on “hearsay” and that he could not provide any credible source of his information, Bhardwaj said.CBSE received another email from a Gurgaon resident whose daughter was also an AIPMT aspirant. The Gurgaon resident, who sent the email from his own ID, claimed the re-examination paper might be leaked and sourced his information to “hearsay.””The incident played havoc with the Board officials making last minute preparations before the re-examination next day and also interrupted their effort for conducting it in a proper manner,” Bhardwaj said.”Investigation has been taken up in the complaint received from CBSE against three persons including a girl candidate of AIPMT,” said an officer of Preet Vihar police station where the complaint was lodged.

Fearing political consequences, Cabinet puts caste data on hold

An official spokesman, however, said no use releasing the raw data as it has thrown up as many as 46 lakh castes and sub-castes, with all sorts of synonyms, surnames, gotras and clan names.

Keeping in view its political consequence, the finds of the caste census conducted by the central government between 2011 and 2014 will remain under wraps. As the demand for its release gets shriller ahead of the Bihar assembly elections, Union Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday constituted an expert group to be headed by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya to further study and analyse the census. The cabinet also empowered the Social Justice and Tribal Welfare Ministries to service it and nominate other members of the group.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar had questioned the Centre in a NITI Aayog meeting for releasing only partial data relating to the economic status of the rural India and not the caste data crucial in the matter of the future reservation to the OBCs (other backward classes). Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad organised a march in Patna early this week to protest at the government not releasing the caste data. Congress also demanded release of full data, as current reservation policy was still based on 1931 caste census. An official spokesman, however, said no use releasing the raw data as it has thrown up as many as 46 lakh castes and sub-castes, with all sorts of synonyms, surnames, gotras and clan names. While constituting the Socio-Economic and Caste Census (SECC) to collect data on castes on May 19, 2011, then Cabinet had also decided to set up the group to analyse the data once available, he said.Though the caste census was carried out by the Registrar General of India who conducts the population census every 10th year, the spokesman claimed the SECC was conducted by the respective State/UT Governments. The field survey on economic data has since been completed and the socio economic data relating to rural areas was released early this month by the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD). He described the work on urban data as “under progress.”The caste data would have revealed actual number of Other Backward Classes (OBCs) put at 54% of India’s population, based on the 1931Census figures used by the Mandal Commission, resulting in granting of 27% reservation to them. However, a careful analysis of the released data suggests the OBC population making upto 66.48% out of the total 17.92 crore rural households. The SECC survey has put the overall population of Scheduled Castes at 18.46% and Scheduled Tribes 10.97%. The rest are clubbed under the head “other households” numbering 12.27 crore which works out to 68.52%. It puts 2.04% of these in the category of “no caste & tribe households. If deducted from the “other households,” it gives a percentage of 66.48%. Overall the SC/ST households have been put at 21.53% of the rural population.In 2010 when the UPA government decided to conduct the caste survey, it was fiercely opposed by the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS). But those in favour of such a census say it was necessary to find actual figures of castes as far as caste-based reservations are in vogue in the country. The 1931 census, used by the Mandal Commission, Upper Castes comprise 15% of total population. But had 66% representation in politics, 87% in services, 94% in trade and 92% of them as land owners. The rest 85% of population had just 13% share in services, 6% in trade and 8% were land owners.

Government may empower states to enact laws for land acquisition

Expecting opposition to the amended Land Acquisition Bill, 2013 in the coming Monsoon session of the Parliament, the NDA government resorts to backroom haggling with chief ministers

Predicting aggressive resistance from the opposition in the coming Monsoon session of the Parliament to the amended Land Acquisition Bill 2013, the NDA government, in a face-saving move and what could also be seen as bucking the House, has quickly moved forward to look at giving freedom to the states to enact laws on it.On Wednesday, after a meeting of Niti Aayog – that was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by 16 chief ministers – finance minister Arun Jaitley said states had suggested that the government swiftly drum up consensus on the Bill or empower them to frame laws for it at their end.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”(Most states said) either the Centre must build consensus and pass the law quickly or give the states the flexibility to make their own laws. Prime Minister will factor in all these views and take a decision,” he told news persons after the meeting.The minister went ahead to add that the Bill, in its current form, already gives freedom to the states to do so.”As far as requirement of the states is concerned, even under the present law, power has been delegated to them. There is already a flexibility for the state (to frame law). It’s much ado about nothing,” he said.The major points of contention between the government and opposition are social impact study, consent of landowners and food security, which could prove as hindrance for acquisition of land by industry.Interestingly, a Parliamentary panel is also studying the Bill and has invited feedback from various stakeholders, CMs and general public. It will be submitting its report to the Parliament during this month. The monsoon session kicks off on July 21.Jaitley said the Parliamentary committee would continue to do its job and the Niti Aayog’s meeting was not in conflict with it.”The committee has been constituted by the Parliament and it will report to the Parliament, not to the government. Consultation with states on all sensitive and serious issues is absolutely important. Niti Aayog is the most appropriate platform for that and since the amendment to the 2013 (land acquisition) law was mooted by the CMs, the PM felt that they should be an integral part of the discussion,” he said.CMs of nine Congress-ruled states boycotted the meeting. Other CMs, who kept away, were Tamil Nadu’s J Jayalalithaa, West Bengal’s Mamta Banerjee, Odisha’s Naveen Patnaik and Uttar Pradesh’s Akhilesh Yadav. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar and Jammu and Kashmir’s Mufti Mohammad Sayeed were present.Samir Jasuja, founder and CEO of real estate analytics firm PropEquity, said sensing that the Parliament route was blocked, the government is trying to resort to backroom negotiations to come around it.”In my view, Bills on land acquisition, GST (goods and services tax) and others are very important for the government’s successful run. Congress is doing everything in its power to block them. To counter that the government is doing some backroom negotiations with CMs to win the war. They are trying to get their consent for passing the Bill with few modifications. They might lose a few battles to win the big war,” he said.Sunil Agarwal, associate dean and director, School of Real Estate, RICS, said it was a strategic move by the government as land was a state subject. He, however, cautioned about the risk of some state misusing it.”Some states have land policy which are pro-developers, and not in the interest of general development,” said Agarwal.To overcome this, he recommended the Centre should define norms on land acquisition and issue model guidelines to the states, which could be tweaked as per their requirement.”At the state level, governments can draw up masterplans with guiding principles. The states should come up with a masterplan for land resource usage, which projection on land need by different departments and sectors and other such details. The laws should be such that they discourage adhoc and discriminatory land acquisition by states,” he said.

Mamata Banerjee rejects Modi govt’s land bill; says already working on an alternate one

The Chief Minister said while everybody is free to sell his land, she will not allow even “one per cent forcible acquisition”.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Virtually rejecting the Modi government’s land bill, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said the state was already following an “alternative” land acquisition policy and asserted she will not accept even “one per cent forcible land acquisition”.Banerjee, who was among the four non-Congress chief ministers to have not attended the meeting of the Governing Council of the NITI Aayog, said her state was following an alternative land policy as it “cannot wait indefinitely for the Centre to come up with its land acquisition policy”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We have framed an alternative land policy where direct purchase can be done through negotiations without any forcible acquisition,” the Chief Minister said at the 100th administrative meeting of the Trinamool Congress government in Burdwan.”We cannot wait when all (parties) will agree, when this bill will be passed. Everybody should form land bank. We have formed land bank, land use policy and land map. We have taken land from this bank to set up industrial parks,” she said.The Chief Minister said while everybody is free to sell his land, she will not allow even “one per cent forcible acquisition”.”Why 20/30 per cent, we are against even one per cent forcible land acquisition. Anyone can sell (his or her) land but we don’t accept forcible land acquisition,” she said.Banerjee said her government had been able to complete various projects through direct land purchase after holding negotiations with the owners. She said the government had to do this because many projects were getting stalled in the absence of Centre’s land acquisition policy, which was pending.”We cannot wait indefinitely for the Centre to come up with its land acquisition policy, so we have started following this model. We have taken the people into confidence while acquiring land,” the chief minister said.Citing instances where the state had been able to make available land for big projects, Banerjee said the Andal greenfield airport and NTPC’s Katwa project were among them.Referring to Singur, which had witnessed violent protests by her party against land acquisition for Tata’s Nano project, which ultimately had to be shifted to Gujarat, she said, “There was a procedural mistake. But for others there had been no such issue.”Chief Ministers of nine Congress-ruled states and those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha today kept away from NITI Aayog’s meeting called to discuss various issues, including the land bill, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the deadlock over the legislation was adversely impacting rural development.

UP CM Akhilesh Yadav unlikely to attend NITI Aayog meet in Delhi

Official sources said that Yadav has a number of engagements lined up in the state capital.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav is unlikely to go to Delhi on Wednesday to take part in a NITI Aayog meeting convened by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.Official sources said that Yadav has a number of engagements lined up in the state capital. The chief minister is scheduled to attend an oath-taking ceremony at Vidhan Bhavan here and in the evening will inspect lighting arrangements of La Martiniere College clock tower and Lucknow University, they said.Modi has called a meeting of NITI Aayog’s governing council, of which all chief ministers are a part, with the land acquisition Bill as the main agenda.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

NITI Aayog panel to cut central schemes from 72 to 30

It wants rationalisation and changed funding pattern to be implemented from 2016-17

The NITI Aayog building in New Delhi
B B Yadav
The chief ministers’ sub-committee of NITI Aayog that met on Saturday to discuss centrally sponsored schemes (CSS), came to a consensus to rationalise it to 30 from the current 72, and raise the share of flexi funds to 25% from 10%.However, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who is heading the sub-group, said the final report on it would be prepared only after getting nods from all members before submitting it to the prime minister.”There is a broad consensus on reducing number of CSSs. There are some suggestions based on which the final draft will be prepared by July 5 before submitted it to the prime minister,” said the minister.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It was crucial for the government to bring down the number of CSSs as state’s share in taxes was increased in the latest Budget to 42% from 32% while a higher share of flexi funds will give governments a higher level of freedom in its utilisation.Under the previous government, CSS was reduced from 147 to 66. This was raised by the current government with inclusion of six such schemes.The draft note prepared by the chief ministers’ group reportedly splits the CSS into two broad groups – core schemes that were legislatively backed with development agenda like Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act (MNREGA), Swachh Bharat and Mid Day Meal and optional schemes for social protection and inclusions.It recommends that the rationalisation of schemes and restructuring funding pattern of CSS be implemented from 2016-17.According to the report prepared by the sub-group, of the total CSS, the centre’s share would not be less than 50%. The sub-group has reportedly also worked out in the funding process and mode under various categories.It said for achieving the Vision 2022, schemes on poverty alleviation, drinking water, Swachh Bharat, rural electrification, women and child health nutrition, housing for all and urban transformation should be given priority.

Vasundhara Raje leaves Delhi without meeting party brass

The spotlight was on her as she landed here amidst the buzz that she could be meeting home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah to discuss allegations over supporting Lalit Modi’s immigration plea and her son Dushyant Singh’s business connections with him.

Vasundhara Raje and MP CM Shivraj Singh on Saturday

Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje arrived on Saturday morning to attend the NITI Aayog meeting and returned without making any other stop in the Capital, looking unruffled by the storm over her links with Lalit Modi. The spotlight was on her as she landed here amidst the buzz that she could be meeting home minister Rajnath Singh, finance minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah to discuss allegations over supporting Lalit Modi’s immigration plea and her son Dushyant Singh’s business connections with him.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> With the BJP standing by her, senior party leaders were of the view that her meeting with them would only spark off further speculation, sources said. Raje was understood to have been scheduled to meet Singh in the morning, but this was cancelled to avoid queries and speculation on the discussions. The senior leadership advised her to leave for Jaipur after the NITI Aayog meeting, sources said. Raje left the NITI Aayog meeting discreetly from the rear gate in somebody else’s car, giving the slip to the media waiting for her at the entrance. She returned to Jaipur after spending around four hours in the Capital, which she had visited the first time ever since the controversy surfaced. While BJP sources did not confirm if she had been scheduled to meet any of the party leaders, they said she left Delhi after the event like all all other chief ministers who had come for the meeting. The BJP had prepared its line of defence on Friday after it was convinced that there was no legal wrongdoing, sources said. It has apparently been conveyed to Raje that the leadership would back her. Politically, too, a resignation would not be an easy step for the party. Besides being a popular chief minister with support of 162 party MLAs, stepping down would be seen as acceptance of charges leaving the leader tainted. Also, even if Raje quits to make way for a smooth session, in which the GST and land acquisition bills are slated to be taken up, the Opposition could turn its focus on external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj. While party spokespersons have been defending Raje, Shah has been silent on the charges against Raje. The BJP chief had made a categorical statement on the controversy involving Swaraj helping Lalit Modi to get travel papers. In Raje’s case, the party was treading cautiously awaiting clarity on the matter. However, on Friday the party gave her a clean chit. Car in CM’s convoy hit by TV channel vehicleA vehicle in the convoy of Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje was hit on Saturday by a TV channel’s car as she was headed to the NITI Aayog from Delhi airport. The CMO said: “At a few places, accidents were about to occur” as the electronic media followed Raje’s convoy from Delhi airport to NITI Aayog. There were jams caused at two places due to the “uncontrolled” driving as some TV channel crews attempted to chase and encircle her car, added the Chief Minister’s Office. The TV crew were “driving their vehicles rashly,” it was alleged. “Mediapersons are requested to take care of their security and others’ too… We are worried for you… We do organise press conferences and issue press statements to reply to your questions… We will follow this in the future too,” it added. “Is media’s role right? Media is said to be the fourth pillar of democracy,” the CMO further remarked.

Reduced budgetary allocations will affect programs for nutrition, women and child welfare: Maneka Gandhi to Niti Aayog

In a letter to Niti Ayog Task Force Head Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Gandhi raised concerns about the reduced budgetary allocation to the ministry, saying it will impact programmes that tackle malnutrition, issues of women and child welfare schemes.

Maneka Gandhi

File Photo
Women and Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi has asked the Niti Aayog to postpone the decision on restructuring of funding pattern of social sector schemes to next fiscal year, citing lack of clarity on certain issues, sources said. She has also urged the plan body to use current financial year in working out the details of the schemes to ensure their smooth implementation, they said.In a letter to Niti Ayog Task Force Head Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Gandhi raised concerns about the reduced budgetary allocation to the ministry, saying it will impact programmes that tackle malnutrition, issues of women and child welfare schemes, sources said. The letter said that the restructuring exercise of the social sector schemes should have been done before the additional devolution of funds to states to bring clarity on new system of fund management.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It is also creating uncertainty among states as there is no clarity on what will be the Centre-states sharing after the devolution which might pull them to commit additional resources for these schemes, the letter stated.Gandhi also said that the ministry will have to find a solution wherein it is able to continue to deliver on the objectives of the women and children welfare schemes in the light of reduced budgetary allocations. She had also written a similar letter to Finance Minister Arun Jaitley after the budget session requesting him to restore the Ministry’s budget to original funds. This year’s annual budget has reduced fund allocation for the women and child welfare schemes.In the annual budget, the ministry was allotted Rs 10,286.73 crore as compared to Rs 21,000 crore in 2014-15. It was a decrease of about 50 per cent.

Manjhi pitches for special status for ‘backward’ Bihar at NITI meet

New Delhi: Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on Sunday pitched for “special category status” for Bihar, a demand long pushed by his mentor-turned-adversary Nitish Kumar, saying it will pave the way for economic development and employment generation in the backward state.

Jitan Ram Manjhi pitched for special status for Bihar at the NITI Aayog meet. IBNLive

He said without the special status the high growth rate achieved by it would not be sustainable.

Addressing the maiden Governing Council of Niti Aayog, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought views of chief ministers on the budgetary allocation to states and various central projects, supported the creation of the new body in place of Planning Commission but also offered veiled criticism of the plan body’s reported function as a “think tank”.

He wondered whether the Niti Aayog will decide allocation of special resources and said, “Will special resources for backward states be made available by the Aayog. I have read in various media reports that it will be done by Finance Ministry. If it is true, then it would be retrograde step.”

He also said that the main concern was the allocation of resources to states.

Noting that “a new idea and vision is required in changing economic and social conditions”, Manjhi said he agreed that there should be a mechanism like Niti Aayog which enhanced “cooperative federalism” and provides a platform to the Centre and states for regular dialogue.

“If Bihar is given special category status, then its share in central scheme will go down and it could utilise its resources in more effective ways… It will lead to better economic conditions, more employment opportunities and improved living conditions.

“That is why people in Bihar have been seeking the status without which we cannot sustain high growth rate achieved in the last nine years,” he said.

also see

BJP accuses Nitish of being unjust to Manjhi; Modi, Amit Shah discuss issue with party leaders

Bihar: JD-U may be headed for a split over likely replacement of CM Manjhi

Bihar: JD(U) appears headed for a Nitish-Manjhi showdown ahead of party meeting

Manjhi said he would not be able to speak in details about the national development agenda listed by the Aayog as he got the agenda on two days back but stresses that a final decision should be taken only after considering inputs from all states.

He listed poverty elimination as the most important criteria by which nation’s “success” should be measured.

Government should empower weaker sections, especially SCs and STs, so that they have a say in deciding on developmental or else “economic development will remain incomplete”.

Speaking about various new central schemes like ‘Swachh Bharat’, ‘Namami Gange’, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’, Manjhi said he had no ideological problems with them and in fact supported some, but there was a concern that a long list of such schemes would cut down on the allocation of money to schemes benefiting poor.

He also demanded that allocation of resources should be based on 2011 census not 1971, as the case now.


NITI Aayog may lead to strained relations between Centre, states: Congress

Mathura: Newly-formed NITI Aayog (National Institution for Transforming India) is an “authoritative” body as Prime Minister Narendra Modi will decide everything and it may lead to “strained” relations between the Centre and states, Congress said on Wednesday.

Representational image. AFP

“It is discriminatory and may lead to strained relation between the Centre and states,” said Madhusudan Mistry, AICC general secretary and in-charge of UP affairs.

The senior Congress leader also alleged that it reflected “dictatorial” attitude of the Prime Minister.

“It is authoritative since nothing will go without the clearance of the Prime Minister. It reflects dictatorial attitude of the Prime Minister,” Mistry told reporters here.

He also claimed that it would affect the development. Mistry also slammed the NDA’s foreign policy.

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NITI Aayog will financially empower states, help get more funding: FM

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Arvind Panagariya at Niti Aayog reveals Modi govt’s disdain for public sector

Chappan inch ka seena panch inch ka rah gaya hai. Dam hai to Pakistan se ladai kyon nahin ladate (The size of the chest has been reduced from 56 inches to 5 inches. If you have the strength why not go for a war against Pakistan),” he said.

The Congress leader also took pot shot at the Centre for providing VIP security to Union minister Niranjan Jyoti. “The government has given Y category security to Union Minister Niranjan Jyoti for disturbing communal harmony,” he said.

He also termed the new Land Acquisition Act as “anti farmer” and alleged that nobody is bothered about the farmer.

“Neither his paddy is being purchased nor cotton seed, after two months the Congress will go to streets and oppose the anti-farmer, anti-people policies of the Union government,” he said.


Honoured to be appointed to NITI Aayog, says Arvind Panagariya

Noted Indian-American free-market economist Arvind Panagariya has said that he is honoured to be appointed as the first Vice Chairman of the newly created NITI Aayog, which replaces the 65-year-old Planning Commission.”I am honoured by this appointment, and I look forward to working with Prime Minister Modi and policymakers across India,” Panagariya was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the Columbia University on Monday.Panagariya is the professor of economics and the Jagdish Bhagwati Professor of Indian Political Economy in the Department of International and Public Affairs. He will take a leave of absence from Columbia to accept his position at the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog.The 62-year-old professor said he expects to continue to engage with Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) “when such opportunities arise” and will resume his work at the School when his assignment is completed.In his new cabinet position, Panagariya will work closely with Modi, who will serve as chair of the renamed institution.Officials envision NITI Aayog as a government “think tank” that will provide strategic and technical advising on key issues.Panagariya, who has been a strong supporter of Modi’s Gujarat model of development, had said some months ago that he wants the BJP government’s first budget to boost capital spending even at the risk of a higher fiscal deficit.He has earlier worked with various international bodies like World Bank, IMF and Asian Development Bank (ADB).Holding a Ph.D degree in Economics from Princeton University, Panagariya has also worked for the World Trade Organization and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in various capacities.During an address at Columbia in September last year on what the Modi government must do to transform the Indian economy, he had said a replacement for the Planning Commission must be “lean and thin” and had termed as “brave” the decision by Modi to do away with the 1950-dated institution.Panagariya had suggested that Modi should put in “as lean and thin a team” for the Commission’s replacement with 10-12 people and “lots of resources so that they can draw on the experts as necessary” and then periodically that team should meet with the Prime Minister and Finance Minister.SIPA Dean Merit Janow congratulated Panagariya on his new role and said his global perspective and broad experience would serve him well as the Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.

Opposing NITI Aayog is merely politics, says Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu

Union parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu
File Photo

Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Venkaiah Naidu on Sunday said that the parties opposing NITI Aayog and land acquisition ordinance were doing so merely for the politics and not for the development. Naidu, who was in city to unveil statue of freedom fighter and designer of the Tricolour Pingali Venkayya here at the All India Radio premises, said all states have a key role in the NITI (National Institute for Transforming India) Aayog to express their views on issues pertaining to economic development.”Parties opposing the NITI Ayog and land acquisition ordinance, are doing it for politics and not for development. Until and unless we bring economic reforms in the country, the nation cannot meet global challenges in terms of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation,” he said.The minister said NDA government is bringing economic reforms which are needed in order to transform the country into an economic super power. Opposition parties need to change their attitude support the government in its initiatives, he said.Naidu also called for smooth functioning of the Parliament and appealed to the Opposition to respect the democratic structure and have constructive debates in the house.

Congress, Left opposition renaming of Planning Commission

NITI Ayog is the new name of the Planning Commission
BB Yadav
The Narendra Modi government’s move to replace the Planning Commission with the NITI Aayog has taken a political twist with the Congress alleging that it was aimed at doing away with Jawaharlal Nehru’s legacy. The main Opposition party said the changes proposed by the government could have been made in the existing Planning Commission.”Taking into account BJP’s hatred for Nehru and his legacy, I am of the opinion without any element of prejudice that the only purpose of replacing the Planning Commission was to de-link the former prime minister’s association with the plan panel,” said Congress’s Bhalchandra Mungekar, who was a member of the Planning Commission.Recalling that Nehru had established the body 64 years ago despite resistance from within Congress, he said it had laid down the foundation of India’s economic development and even non-Congress governments, including the Vajpayee regime, refrained from scrapping it. However, Mungekar admitted that having worked in the Planning Commission, he was aware of its shortcomings and limitations and that it did require changes in terms of reference besides mode of functioning consistent with a globalised economy.”But the changes made now in the NITI are not far reaching and could have been made in the Planning Commission,” he said.Modi had in his Independent Day speech at Red Fort sought public opinion on a new plan panel, sparking off an angry reaction from the Congress.The Left parties dubbed the NITI Aayog as a “regressive step” saying that though in the old Planning Commission the states had no say, the Modi government’s claim of the new one being based on cooperative federalism was a “spurious” one.”The National Development Council is replaced by a governing council which is a powerless body of a think-tank. That think tank will be under the prime minister and the Prime Minister’s Office. This is a centralised unitarian structure,” the CPM politburo said.It said that underlying the abolition of the concept of the Planning Commission is the Modi government’s ideological conviction that public resources should be put at the disposal of the private sector and market forces. “With this the role of the State in ensuring the citizens the fundamental rights and fulfilling the Directive Principles of the Constitution regarding education, health, food security and livelihood, is being abandoned,” the statement said.Meanwhile, BJP welcomed the government’s decision with party president Amit Shah saying the government on very first day of the year 2015 has gifted the NITI Ayog to nation and it will work as “Team India”.