India’s agricultural sector is 28 years behind its time due to lack of necessary reforms, the Niti Aayog highlighted in its meeting on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is also the chairman of the think-tank.
The Aayog also suggested the government that to make the farm sector up to the mark, a comprehensive reform package would be needed with high involvement from the market, especially considering that the share of the agriculture in the country’s gross domestic product was on a downward trend.
A Niti Aayog official said that the Prime Minister instructed Niti Aayog, among other things, to consider broader goals and issues for the agriculture sector. He also asked the body to keep in mind the growing food demand in the country especially considering the implications of an evolving middle class in India. “The Prime Minister said the focus cannot be on increasing agricultural productivity alone, but should be on the overall development of a vibrant rural economy. He emphasised the importance of the food processing sector, warehouse development, and technology inputs, in this sector,” an official statement said.
Niti Aayog’s vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya said that the original agenda of the Prime Minister’s meeting was to discuss the think-tank’s approach towards preparing the 15-year Vision Document. However, Modi also sought discussion over the work done by the Aayog since its inception 18 months ago.
Modi asked Niti Aayog to prepare a Vision Document that contains a roadmap for India’s development for the next 15 years to bring transformational changes, suggesting that the document should lay the foundation of India’s growth agenda for the entire 21st century. He also highlighted the importance of technology as an emerging driver of change over the last three decades, and asserted that this pace of change would not slacken. Panagariya said that in his presentation before the Prime Minister, many of the shortcomings of the erstwhile Nehruvian planning process were highlighted to indicate that the same won’t be incorporated in the 15-year Vision Document, or the seven year national development agenda.
According to Panagariya’s presentation, these shortcomings, which he has termed as a “detailed account of our mistakes” include the industrial control wherein the past regimes expanded the public sector into areas “that were best left to the private sector”, which evolved a socialistic pattern of society.
“Only proper analysis and assessment of proposed policies by experts and specialists can help us anticipate unintended consequences of policies. This is why we are preparing the long term vision and strategy documents and placing them in public domain for extensive discussion is extremely important,” Panagariya said through his presentation.
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