Niti Aayog Sets Target of 8% Growth over Next Five Years

Niti Aayog, the government’s think tank, has pitched for an average 8% growth over the next five years to lift India to a $4-trillion economy in its 75th year of independence, proposing a strategy for a New India by 2022.

A document unveiled by finance minister Arun Jaitley and Niti Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar detailed 41 key areas, recognising progress made and identifying constraints on the path to achieve these goals. It broke down the 41 sectors into four broad categories: drivers, infrastructure, inclusion and governance.

The strategy for New India @75 envisages gross fixed capital formation, or the investment rate, rising to 36% of GDP by 2022 from the present 29%.

The section on drivers focuses on economic performance and discusses growth and employment, doubling farmers’ incomes, upgrading science, technology and innovation ecosystem and promoting sunrise sectors such as fintech and tourism.

The strategy document comes several months after the Aayog released its three-year action plan and is expected to be followed by a 15-year vision document before general elections next year.

The document called for a shift in agriculture to convert farmers into ‘agripreneurs’ by expanding e-National Agriculture Markets and replacing the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act with Agricultural Produce & Livestock Marketing Act. A unified national market, a freer export regime and abolition of the Essential Commodities Act are essential to boost agricultural growth, it said.

“The strategy document’s focus is to further improve the policy environment in which private investors and other stakeholders can contribute their fullest towards achieving goals set out for New India 2022,” the Aayog said. The document attempts to bring innovation, technology, enterprise and efficient management together at the core of policy formulation and implementation. “It will encourage discussion and debate and invite feedback for further refining our policy approach,” it said.

Niti Aayog consulted over 800 government stakeholders – central, state and district levels – and about 550 external experts over the year before finalising the document last month.

“A strong push would be given to ‘Zero Budget Natural Farming’ techniques that reduce costs, improve land quality and increase farmers’ incomes,” the document said, outlining what needs to be done in the sector.

These techniques are a tested method for putting environment carbon back into the land and would allow India to significantly contribute to reducing the global carbon footprint.

“To ensure maximum employment creation, complete codification of labour laws is needed and a massive effort must be made to upscale and expand apprenticeships,” it said.

To enhance the competitiveness of Indian business and ensure ease of living for all, it called for the creation of physical infrastructure including expediting the establishment of the Rail Development Authority, doubling the share of freight transported by coastal shipping and inland waterways and eliminating the digital divide.

Under the inclusion category, Niti Aayog urged the government invest in healthcare, education and mainstreaming of traditionally marginalised sections of the population.

On governance, it detailed streamlining structures and optimising processes to get better developmental outcomes.

Some of the key recommendations include the implementation of the recommendations of the Second Administrative Reforms Commission as a prelude to appointing a successor for designing reforms in the changing context of emerging technologies and growing complexity of the economy.

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