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Lancet study puts India as the worst performing among BRICS nations on health indicators

Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.

Yet another report on India’s troubled health care system pointed out the country’s poor performance across health indicators, despite economic advantages. A report in the medical journal The Lancet — Assuring Health Coverage for all in India — by leading health researchers in the country put India as the worst performing country among the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and well behind its more impoverished neighbours such as Nepal and Bangladesh when it came to health.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Despite a certain amount of progress in the past decade or so, the report points out glaring gaps in healthcare infrastructure in the country — “low resource allocation, low emphasis on primary health care, poor utilisation of human resources,” as Professor K Srinath Reddy, one of the co-authors said.The report also talks about high out-of-pocket expenditure that drives millions to impoverishment and a disproportionate disease burden. As the report says, India has 20 percent of the global disease burden, marginally better than 21 percent in 2005 while expenditure has dropped from 4.5 percent of the GDP in 2004-05 to 4 percent in 2015.Speaking to dna, Professor Reddy said that idea behind this most recent analysis of data was to make a case for better investment in health care better financial allocation and governance and improved utilisation of all resources.There are certain positives; increase in life expectancy at birth, lowering of infant mortality rate and the maternal mortality ratio, containing the spread of HIV, being declared free of polio and maternal and neonatal tetanus by the WHO. However, “India accounts for 27 per cent of all the neonatal deaths and 21 per cent of all the child deaths (younger than 5 years) in the world. Diarrhoea, pneumonia, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and neonatal sepsis account for 68 per cent of all deaths in children younger than 5 years in the country,” reads the study.The report calls for radical measures as the only way to assure the universal health targets that the country’s own draft National Health Policy endorses, by 2022. Suj measures start with building infrastructure for primary health care. This policy, according to Reddy, provides a sound roadmap and strategic components for the way forward. However, it’s been in cold storage for almost a year as the NITI Ayog differed from it.Earlier this year, media reports said that the Niti Ayog preferred more privatisation of health care as opposed to public spending.Expenditure on health care becomes the bone of contention. Though this government, as the report details, has launched several schemes to better healthcare across regions, ages, sexes caste and classes, it also slashed the annual health budget. Says Reddy that the argument is that resources are not used properly and often allocated money is returned. However, he advocates for more front end expenditure on human resources, drugs, technology, infrastructure.A day before The Lancet study, the Indian Health Report: Nutrition, too pointed out that India’s health indicators and its economic strength were not directly proportional. Stunting affects 38.7 percent of under five children pointing to widespread malnutrition. Both reports, importantly, highlighted that causes also lay in a range of socio-economic determinants, and “widespread inequities in health outcomes that are apparent in the large morbidity and mortality differentials across socio economic status, caste, class, sex, and geographic location”. “We’re doing poorly across the board according to aggregate indicators,” explained Reddy, however, results differed states from state, along caste and class lines. “We have to push to do better not only on aggregate indicators but also address these inequities and provide universal health access.

NITI Ayog push to innovation and start-ups; Government and private stakeholders to hold discussions

This will be a follow-up of a NITI Ayog appointed expert committee report on innovation and entrepreneurship submitted last month that recommended private funding for research and development and incentivizing innovations, among other things.

Policy panel National Institute for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog will hold discussions with the ministries of Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) , Department of Biotechnology and Department of Science and Technology to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and start-ups under the government’s Atal Innovation Mission (AIM). This will be a follow-up of a NITI Ayog appointed expert committee report on innovation and entrepreneurship submitted last month that recommended private funding for research and development and incentivizing innovations, among other things.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> While secretaries of MSME, department of Biotechnology and Department of Science will be part of the deliberations, which will be held on December 4 in the form of a panel discussion, other participants will include members of the 15-member expert committee, including its chairman Professor Tarun Khanna.Minister for Science and Technology and and Earth Sciences Dr Harsh Vardhan is expected to join the deliberations whereas independent innovators and entrepreneurs too have been invited. Besides establish the Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), NITI Ayog is also looking at setting up a Self Employment and Talent Utilisation (SETU) mechanism. According to Ayog, while AIM will act as a platform for promoting a network of world-class innovation hubs,SETU will be a techno-financial, incubation and facilitation programme to support all aspects of start-up businesses, and other self-employment activities, particularly in technology driven areas.

NITI Aayog working on agri-land lease law for farm income

With increasing incidents of suicide and growing debt among farmers in the country, government’s think tank – NITI Aayog – has found a solution for regular income for the farmers i.e. agriculture land leasing. NITI Aayog has formed an expert committee that would be working to formulate a model agriculture land leasing law.The ten-member committee, headed by former commissioner for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP) and director of Council for Social Development (CSD) Dr T Haque, would submit its report by December to the NITI Aayog. The committee has also been asked to suggest amendments keeping in view the need to liberalise land leasing for agriculture efficiency, equity, occupational diversification and rapid rural transformation. The committee has already held first round of talks with chief secretaries of seven states who are also committee members and may involve chief secretaries from other states for consultations too.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Talking to dna, an official from the NITI Aayog on condition of anonymity said, “The focus right now is on agriculture land leasing for farming only, but we could also look at leasing land for industrial purpose too. With land acquisition becoming difficult due to stiff political opposition and farmer resistance, land leasing could be one of the best ways forward.””NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya also thinks so,” he says adding that “Small-scale farming is becoming unviable and with at least leasing farmland, farmers can get assured income. Since everything would be in black and white, it would help them to reserve their rights. BJP state governments too seem to like the idea.”However, committee chairman Dr T Haque, said, “Our mandate is to just look at land leasing for agriculture purpose only and no directions have come for industrial purpose. Agriculture land leasing will help in three ways as it will help in improving productivity, will give access to credit and crop insurance to lease holders and better utilization of land and labour.”He adds that with this, farmers can get atleast regular income and risk would be forwarded to the lease holder.There are various mechanisms to assure that agriculture land is used for farming only. “There could be ceiling on the land that a person can take on lease. It would be a simple model frame work facilitating state governments.”On question of whether the move will help contract farming in the country by corporate, he said, “It is too soon. Let us work on the model and develop it.”He refused to comment further.Land being a state subject, it’s the prerogative of state government to decide on whether to allow leasing agriculture land by farmers or not. At present the country has a wide variation in agriculture land leasing.For example in North Eastern states like Nagaland, no one holds the land rights. The land rights are with the village community which is headed by village chief or king. He is the one who decides how much land is to be given to a person for cultivation.Similarly, in states like Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Karnataka, agriculture land leasing is illegal except certain categories of people who are allowed to lease out land. These are widows, minors, physically challenged people and those working in armed forces. In the states of Kerala, Manipur and Jammu and Kashmir, leasing out of agriculture land is banned legally.

CMs’ panel bats for fuel cess to fund Swachh Bharat

Getting money for this ambitious project has remained a challenge. The government had so far set its eyes on corporates and individuals for attracting funds for the campaign.

PM Narendra Modi receives the report from chief ministers’ panel

A sub-group of chief ministers assigned to look into various aspects of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, one of the pet projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has come out with a novel idea to fund the campaign that is estimated to cost Rs 62,000 crore.Getting money for this ambitious project has remained a challenge. The government had so far set its eyes on corporates and individuals for attracting funds for the campaign.But now, realising that funding from both these sources was highly vulnerable and not dependable, the sub-group, including chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, and Uttarakhand Chandrababu Naidu, Manohar Lal Khattar and Harish Rawat respectively, has recommended raising Swachh Bharat bonds and also levying a Swachh Bharat cess on petrol, diesel, telecom services and also on accumulated waste produced by plants generating mineral waste like coal, aluminium and iron ore.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>It has been recommended to reduce the subsidy on chemical fertiliser and increase the subsidy on compost to encourage its use. In order to improve the viability of waste management activities, the report proposes provision of tax exemptions by the Centre and the state government to the private sector.On the funding patterns, the group, which submitted its report on Wednesday to the Prime Minister has suggested funds should be shared by the Centre and states in the ratio of 75:25, while for hilly states it may be kept at 90:10.The sub-group of chief ministers on Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan was constituted on March 24, 2015 pursuant to the decision taken in the first Governing Council Meeting of the NITI Aayog held on February 8, 2015.The main recommendations of the report include bringing the behavior change and encouraging positive habits related to sanitation and cleanliness among the people. The report also talks about including sanitation and cleanliness in school curriculum and formation of a team of students to be called as ‘Swachhta Senani’ in schools and colleges.A National Technical Board has been recommended to handhold the States and Local Bodies in identification, evaluation, selection and procurement of technologies. The report recommends certain measures to attract private sector participation and public private partnership (PPP). It has been recommended that waste to energy plants may be set up on PPP mode in bigger municipalities and cluster of municipalities, whereas, composting method may be adopted for smaller towns and villages. The report proposes to enhance the assistance for construction of one unit of individual household toilet in both urban and rural areas to Rs 15,000. The report recommends integration of rag pickers into the waste management system so that their livelihood is not adversely affected.

PM Modi’s land ordinance decision at Niti Aayog’s behest: Maharashtra CM Fadnavis

Fadnavis said that the Maharashtra government has already decided to give highest compensation to farmers as compared to other states.

Getty Images
After Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced that the government will not re-promulgate the controversial Land Acquisition ordinance which expires on Monday, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in Mumbai on Sunday that decision was taken at the NITI Ayog’s request.”At a recent NITI Aayog meeting, most chief ministers had demanded that due to the stalemate in Parliament over the Land Bill, critical infrastructure projects of states are getting delayed and so the Centre should empower states to enact their own land acquisition models,” Fadnavis told PTI.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”We are happy that Modi has accepted our request and decided that instead of re-promulgating the ordinance, states will be empowered to frame their own models,” he said.Fadnavis said that the Maharashtra government has already decided to give highest compensation to farmers as compared to other states. “This decision will expedite rural and urban infrastructure projects,” he said.In May, the Maharashtra government had decided to give four times more compensation than the cost of land as per the ready reckoner (RR) rate for acquiring land in urban areas, while land owners in rural areas would get five times more compensation than the ready reckoner rate.Hitting out at critics, Fadnavis said, “Those who say that the government has taken a U-turn fail to understand that it is a decision taken for the benefit of farmers and people at large. The recent election results in MP, Rajasthan and Bangalore show that people have complete faith in Modi”. He said that people have reposed their faith in the BJP in Maharashtra as well, since the party won more than 2,100 gram panchayat elections in recent times.”People have full faith in Modi and they will always reject the opposition’s destructive agenda,”

Congress attacks TDP on Andhra Pradesh’s poor show in Swachh Bharat rankings

The Congress in Andhra Pradesh has targetted the TDP-led government over the low ratings of two major cities in the state in the Swachh Bharat rankings.

Chandrababu Naidu

The Congress in Andhra Pradesh has targetted the TDP-led government over the low ratings of two major cities in the state in the Swachh Bharat rankings.Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is frequently visiting the two important cities – Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam – in the state which have been put at the 266th and 205th place, respectively, in the Swachh Bharat rankings, APCC spokesperson Kolanukonda Shivaji said. Naidu is frequently visiting the two places for encouraging the ‘Smart City’ programme, but has failed to improve the cleanliness there, he alleged.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He also sought to know what has the CM achieved by giving lectures on cleanliness in other countries. Naidu launched the ‘Swachh Andhra Pradesh’ programme with much fanfare and also headed the NITI Ayog’s Chief Ministers Sub-Group on Swachh Bharat Mission, but his efforts in improving the cleanliness conditions in the state have shown poor results, Shivaji said.He demanded that the state government should make public the funds allocated in last one year under the Swachh Bharat mission for urban local bodies. Mysore has topped the Swachh Bharat rankings among 476 cities in the country, as per a recent government release.All 476 Class-1 cities in 31 states and Union Territories, each with a population of above one lakh, were surveyed for the extent of open defecation and solid waste management practice. The Swachh Bharat rankings are based on a total of 42 marks, including 20 for open defecation indicators and 22 for solid waste management indicators.In Andhra Pradesh, 30 cities were surveyed. The survey, conducted during 2014-15, was commissioned by the Ministry of Urban Development as required under the National Sanitation Policy of 2008.

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.

Rahul Gandhi woos farmers in Rajasthan, attacks PM Modi on land bill

Undertaking an 8-km ‘padyatra’ in the villages of the desert state, a day after Congress chief ministers boycotted the NITI Aayog meeting convened by the Prime Minister on the contentious legislation, Rahul also attacked Narendra Modi for his “silence” on corruption.

File picture

Continuing his relentless assault on the Modi government over the land bill, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday vowed not to allow it acquire “even an inch of land” as he reached out to the farmers of Rajasthan with a foot march.Undertaking an 8-km ‘padyatra’ in the villages of the desert state, a day after Congress chief ministers boycotted the NITI Aayog meeting convened by the Prime Minister on the contentious legislation, Rahul also attacked Narendra Modi for his “silence” on corruption. “You are being subjected to oppression. I have come here today to assure you that Congress party will fight with the BJP and NDA not just in Rajasthan but in the entire country.We will not let them take even a single inch of land. We will not allow the BJP to move forward a single inch.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”You should not worry. Congress is a party of the poor, farmers and labourers. Whenever you are troubled, you will find the Congress party by your side,” he said. Rahul, who has reached out to farmers with ‘padyatra’ in various parts of the country including Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh in recent months mounting pressure on the Centre on the land bill, also attacked Modi for his silence on corruption.”The Prime Minister said he will not take bribe himself nor will allow anybody else to take it. He never said he will keep quiet and say nothing when corruption takes place,” the Congress vice president said addressing villagers in Khotanwali, Surawali and Amarsingh wala, where his padyatra ended in Hanumangarh district. He raked up a host of controversies including the Vyapam scam in Madhya Pradesh and the “mini-Modi” issue in Rajasthan, apparently referring to Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje’s links with the controversial former IPL boss Lalit Modi, wanted by the Enforcement Directorate for questioning in connection with alleged money laundering related to the T20 cricket tournament.Taking on the Modi government and Raje on her own turf, he said, “Probably the number of issues BJP, Narendra Modi and the Rajasthan Chief Minister have given to Congress party we could not have even imagined. They gave us the land issue and issues of tribals, corruption, the Vyapam scam and that of Mini-Modi issue here.” “There is corruption of different kinds in Rajasthan. You all know of the Chief Minister’s corruption…you are being subjected to oppression and killed. The future of your children is being snatched away,” he said and assured the farmers that Congress will stand like a “wall” before them whenever they are subjected to oppression. Rahul is on a two-day visit to Rajasthan during which he will undertake a padayatra and address a PCC convention and meet with civil society members. Rahul held a ‘public hearing’ in Khotawali village where farmers shared there grievances with him. He met veteran Congress leader Shyokaran Ram at his residence before commencing the eight-kilometre march accompanied by former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, State Congress Committee President Sachin Pilot and AICC General Secretary Gurudas Kamat.By asking its chief ministers to boycott the NITI Aayog meeting on the land bill yesterday, Congress has sent a clear message it will take further its battle against the Modi government on the issue in Parliament during the Monsoon Session. Rahul had led the opposition attack against the bill both outside and within Parliament during the Budget Session where he alleged the “suit-boot ki sarkar” had neglected the farmers and was working only for capitalists.

Amit Shah holds meeting with BJP Chief Ministers

BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday met chief ministers of all party-ruled states in which issues involving government and the party came up for discussion.

PTI photo
BJP president Amit Shah on Wednesday met chief ministers of all party-ruled states in which issues involving government and the party came up for discussion.A party source said there was nothing particular on the agenda for today’s meet as it is Shah’s practice to meet all the BJP chief ministers together every time when there is a Niti Aayog meeting as it is convenient for him and others to do so.”He has been meeting them every time there is a Niti Aayog meeting and they discussed all the current issues facing the party and the party–run governments,” sources said. The second meeting of NITI Aayog’s Governing Council was called by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to deliberate on various issues, including the contentious land acquisition Bill.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Governing Council, which comprises all Chief Ministers and Lt Governors of Union Territories, is headed by the Prime Minister. Chief Ministers of nine Congress-ruled states as well as those of West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha kept away from the meeting.The meeting, however, was attended by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed apart from the CMs of the NDA-ruled states. Later, in a tweet, Shah said, “Had a comprehensive meeting with Chief Ministers of @BJP4India ruled states today in Delhi.” The BJP chief also posted a picture of himself with the BJP chief ministers taken during the meeting.

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 en route to Delhi to attend NITI Aayog meeting

As per reports, Raje will also attend sub-committee meeting of NITI Aayog on June 28.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Amid the ongoing calls for her resignation, Rajasthan Chief Minsiter Vasundhara Raje on Saturday left for New Delhi to attend a NITI Aayog meeting. Clad in a red saree, Raje left for New Delhi in a chopper. As per reports, Raje will also attend sub-committee meeting of NITI Aayog on June 28. The Rajsthan Chief Minister on Friday had rebutted reports of personally calling MLAs to seek their support and loyalty, rubbishing the news as ‘baseless’. The BJP, which has been defending External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj despite opposition demands that she be sacked for helping Lalit Modi, was hit with another worry last week when the former IPL boss claimed that Raje secretly supported his immigration plea in Britain. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

PM noncommittal on continuing special status to NE states: Tripura CM

The Tripura CM expressed his displeasure on the delay in response to the resolution of the NE states regarding the special category states demand.

Tripura CM Manik Sarkar
File Photo

Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar on Thursday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had remained noncommittal during his recent discussion on the demand to continue the Special Category status for North Eastern states. A resolution for continuing the Special Category status of the eight North Eastern states was taken following discussion with the Chief Ministers of the states concerned and a memorandum in this regard was sent to the Prime Minister on April 23 last, Sarkar said. “Finally the Prime Minister called me for discussion on the matter on Tuesday last and I attended the meeting after discussion with my counterparts of the region. “The Prime Minister told me that share of central taxes has increased by 10 per cent for the states. He told me to discuss the matter with the NITI Ayog,” Sarkar told reporters here.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> He said, “However, he agreed to remain present at the meeting of the North Eastern Council (NEC) and hear from the chief ministers of the region, but did not give any assurance regarding our demand.” Expressing his displeasure on the delay in response to the resolution of the NE states regarding the special category states demand, the Chief Minister said, “The Prime Minister talks of co-operational federalism and team India, but how those things will be implemented if the chief ministers cannot talk to the Prime Minister?” “In the meeting, several issues related to financial assistance from the Centre were discussed thoroughly. I told him (PM) that Tripura used to receive around Rs 23,000 crore annually in three different heads – Normal Assistance, Special Plan Assistance and Special Central Assistance, till 2014-15,” he said. Also Read: Manipur ambush: Army targets North East insurgents along Myanmar border

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 to have specialised wings, including ‘Team India’

New Delhi: The newly-created NITI Aayog will be a think-tank having experts and representative on its board from states and the Centre and will have specialised wings including ‘Team India’.

It will suggest remedies to respective governments implementing schemes, policies and projects.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the Team India, first meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog, in New Delhi on 08 February 2015. Image courtesy PIB

“While it will make recommendations to the Central and state governments, the responsibility for taking and implementing decisions will rest with them (Centre and states both),” an official statement said.

According to the statement, NITI Aayog will function in close cooperation, consultation and coordination with the Central ministries and state governments.

NITI Aayog will house a number of specialised wings, including research, consultancy and Team India.

As per the statement, the research wing will develop in-house sectoral expertise as a dedicated think-tank of top notch domain experts, specialists and scholars.

The consultancy wing will provide a market-place of panels of expertise and funding for Central and state governments to tap into.

By playing match-maker instead of providing the entire services itself, NITI Aayog will be able to focus its resources on priority matters, providing guidance and an overall quality check.

also see

PM Modi to interact with economists and experts at first NITI meeting on Friday

States should get flexibility to change Central schemes: Raman Singh

PM Modi seeks ideas on Budget 2015 at NITI Aayog’s maiden meet

The Team India Wing will comprise representatives from every state and ministry and serve as a permanent platform for national collaboration.

Each representative will ensure every state/ministry has a continuous voice and stake in the NITI Aayog.

They will also establish a direct communication channel between the state/ministry and NITI Aayog for all development related matters as the dedicated liaison interface.

A national Hub-Spoke institutional model will be developed, with each State and Ministry encouraged to build dedicated mirror institutions, serving as the interface of interaction. These institutions, in turn, will nurture their own networks of expertise at state and ministry level, it said.

It will provide critical directional and strategic input to the development process, focusing on deliverables and outcomes.

This, along with being as incubator and disseminator of fresh thought and ideas for development, will be the core mission of the Aayog.


As party members pick Nitish as leader, Manjhi to meet PM Modi in Delhi today

New Delhi: Beleaguered Bihar Chief Minister Jitan Ram Manjhi is set to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi in the evening today with the two expected to discuss the political situation in the state where an overwhelming majority of ruling JD(U) MLAs yesterday chose Nitish Kumar as their party leader.

Sources close to Manjhi, who has refused to step down and termed the JD(U) Legislature Party meet yesterday “unconstitutional”, said he wanted BJP to support his bid to prevent Kumar — his one-time mentor against whom he has rebelled — from taking over from him. At the meeting, which is scheduled to be held at 5 PM, Manjhi and Modi could explore possibilities in this regard, they added.

Manjhi is here to attend the NITI Aayog meet where Modi will seek views of chief ministers on the budgetary allocation for the states and various central projects even though JD(U) has disapproved of his bid to take part in the exercise, saying his position as chief minister was no longer tenable.

Jitan Ram Manjhi in a file photo. PTI

Although BJP is keen to exploit the crisis within JD(U) to consolidate its position in Bihar, it is also wary about propping up Manjhi, whose tenure has been criticised by its state unit for poor governance.

The lack of support for the Mahadalit leader within his own party is also dissuading BJP from coming out openly to back Manjhi as it believes that numbers in the Bihar Assembly clearly favour Kumar.

Manjhi, on the other hand, is also exploring the possibility of a fresh election in the state — a demand also made by senior Bihar BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi — if the Bihar Governor Kesrinath Tripathi agrees to his Cabinet proposal to dissolve the Assembly.

Only seven members of the Manjhi Cabinet had supported the proposal at their meeting yesterday while 21 others had opposed it.

Later, 97 of JD(U)’s 111 MLAs met to replace Manjhi with Kumar as their new leader, underlining the lack of support for the chief minister within his own party.


Narendra Modi chants development to win over RSS

Atal Bihari Vajpayee was often irked by the language used by Hindutva hard liners. So, it seems, is prime minister Narendra Modi. Yet, he is treading cautiously. While publicly maintaining a stoic silence over contentious issues, Modi has put in place a communication mechanism with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh on government policies to avert a face off. He has asked ministries to keep concerned affiliates of the RSS in the loop on policy matters, by holding consultations before announcing decisions on related policy matters.Even on the issue of replacing the Planning Commission with the NITI Aayog, deliberations were held between government and RSS think tanks before a final decision was taken, sources said.The idea is to avert an open confrontation on policy issues with the RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor. Though the Modi government may go ahead with certain decisions, like FDI in insurance, coal ordinance or labour laws, despite resistance from the Sangh’s oufits, the message that is conveyed is that it has taken cognisance of the RSS views.”Consultations are held between government and organisations affiliated with the RSS on various issues. The government puts its views before us. But, its not necessary that we agree on everything,” says Ashwani Mahajan of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), which deals with economic issues. The SJM is opposed the government’s FDI policy.Since the RSS was founded in 1925, around a 100 of its wings have sprouted dealing with various sectors including economy, farmers, education, tribals, trade unions, think tanks, students, culture and small industries. The trade union wing– Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh– has joined trade unions of rival political parties in taking to the streets against the government.”I don’t see any confrontation with the government. A trade union has to protect interests of workers,” said BMS general secretary Virjesh Upadhyay.Modi, according to sources, would rather placate the Sangh through the development agenda by delivering on promises like Ganga rejuvenation plan, than through radical Hindutva issues.Even as his silence on controversial issues and statements are being interpreted in different ways, sources said Modi is conveying his disapproval through emissaries. He has made it clear that neither the government nor party should deviate from the development agenda.The RSS, too, would not want to take on the Modi government at a time when its political outfit was on a winning spree in electoral battles and had got a clear mandate for the first time in Lok Sabha elections. A party leader, who is close to the Sangh, said the RSS was “proud” of the “corruption-free” government under Modi’s leadership and its “pro-poor” schemes. The entire RSS machinery is involved in the election campaigns for the BJP.”Modi’s relationship with the RSS is both complementary and competitive. The RSS is part of his past… Modi wants to modernise in a way the RSS can’t. The RSS is national, Modi wants to be global,” said sociologist Shiv Visvanathan.While a section in the party may be of the view that polarisation could help in elections in states like Uttar Pradesh, Modi appears confident that he would be able to lead the party to victories through the development plank.Party insiders, who have been watching the developments since the earlier NDA regime, say the hard liners have been speaking the same language but when the BJP is in power it comes into focus. A party functionary recalled that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee often asked why the hard liners did not say “Bharat” or “India” instead of harping on “Hindus”.

New era dawns: Niti Ayog empowers states for development; Prime Minister Narendra Modi to head new body

New Delhi: A view of the Yojana Bhawan in which the erstwhile Planning Commision was located, in New Delhi on Thursday. The restructured body will henceforth be known as the `NITI ((National Institution for Transforming India) Ayog` in its new avatar.
On the last day of 2014, curtains came down on the last relic of the Nehruvian socialist economy with the Union government replacing the Planning Commission (Yojna Ayog) with another body, the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Ayog). In 1950, Jawaharlal Nehru, who admired Joseph Stalin’s drive to industrialise the Soviet Union, set up and chaired the Commission to map out a development path for India’s agrarian economy.A 2,883-word long Cabinet resolution on setting up this institution calls it a Think Tank of the government or a “directional and policy dynamo,”providing governments at the central and state levels relevant strategic and technical advice.” Noted economist Arvind Panagariya (62) will be the vice-chairman in the NITI Ayog.Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced in his Independence Day address to the nation that the Planning Commission would be dumped. US-based academic Panagariya is a free market, right wing economist who, over the last two years, has been writing advisories to the BJP about how to run the economy. He had also openly offered his services and now has been given the job he wanted. How will NITI differ from Planning Commission?Unlike the Planning Commission, the new body is for governance across the public and private domains, the Cabinet resolution says. “Everyone has a stake in ensuring good governance and effective delivery of services. Creating Jan Chetna, therefore, becomes crucial for people’s initiative. In the past, governance may have been rather narrowly construed as public governance. In today’s changed dynamics – with ‘public’ services often being delivered by ‘private’ entities, and the greater scope for ‘participative citizenry’, governance encompasses and involves everyone.” The NITI Aayog will also seek to put an end to slow and tardy implementation of policy, by fostering better inter-ministry and better Centre-State coordination. Will it be Modi’s economic bureau?Yes. Modi took the chief ministers into confidence on December 7 to go ahead with the new institution to strengthen “cooperative federalism” by promoting the concept of “Team India,” noting that even then prime minister Manmohan Singh said on April 30 last year that the current structure of the Planning Commission has “no futuristic vision in the post-reform period”. What else does the resolution say?The Cabinet resolution, which provides the ideological framework, invokes Mahatma Gandhi on constant development in life, BJP ideologue late Deen Dayal Upadhyaya for uplifting the downtrodden, Swami Vivekananda, Constitution’s architect Dr Ambedkar and Tamil poet and philosopher Thiruvalluvar, to let the NITI Ayog act as the “pillars” that provide a “Bharatiya approach to development.” It prescribes 13 objectives on which the NITI Ayog has to remain focussed. Will NITI devolve more powers to states?The new body will allow state governments to determine the architecture of economic growth and development, the resolution says: “The one-size-fits-all approach, often inherent in central planning, has the potential to create needless tensions and undermining the harmony needed for national effort. The resolution quotes Dr Ambedkar that it is “unreasonable to centralise powers where central control and uniformity is not clearly essential or is impracticable.”The Planning Commission was unpopular with chief ministers as it engaged in promotion of Centre-to-state one-way flow of policy..” How is it structured?The structure will be the same as the Planning Commission with the Prime Minister remaining its chairperson, but the difference lies in its governing council comprising chief ministers of all states and lieutenant governors of Union territories and fixed-tenure regional councils to address specific issues, affecting more than one state or region. How will members be nominated?The new institution leaves scope for the PM to nominate experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees. The members of the new body will include PM as the chairperson, his nominee as the vice-chairperson, full-time members, rotational part-time members, four Union ministers as ex-officio members, a chief executive officer for a fixed tenure in the rank of the secretary to the Centre and the usual secretariat.