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State govts have key role in improving social indicators, says NITI Aayog CEO

Kant also said it was important for India to do technological leapfrogging by using its huge strength in digitisation and go “green” as far using of fuel in future was concerned.

By: Express News Service | Ahmedabad |
November 11, 2021 10:44:12 pm
The NITI Aayog official stressed that the “development experiences” of countries in Asia showed that investments in education, health and nutrition were just as important as economic reforms and investments in physical and digital infrastructure. (File)

Putting the onus of improving social indicators on state governments, Chief Executive Officer of NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant Thursday said states have to play critical role in implementing central schemes that can improve health, education and nutritional parameters and provide India with 9-10 per cent sustained growth for next three decades.

Kant was speaking at Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIMA) on the topic “Public Policy Priorities for the Social Sector – Leaving no one behind in New India.”

“If India really needs to grow at high rates of 9-10 per cent over a three-decade period, year after year … then India needs to improve its learning outcomes; India needs to get health outcomes right; and India needs to improve to very great extent on nutrition outcomes. We must get the social indicators right and each of the action lies in the domain of state governments,” Kant said.

Kant pointed out that lack of convergence of education, health and nutrition related schemes at “grassroots” have caused poor outcomes. “While we continue to provide education and health, outcomes remain very poor in many of these areas. Therefore, one of the key challenges is how do we work with state governments and private sector,” he said.

The NITI Aayog official stressed that the “development experiences” of countries in Asia showed that investments in education, health and nutrition were just as important as economic reforms and investments in physical and digital infrastructure.

“It is very important to understand that many of the social sector schemes are a function of state government. India is too large and too vast a country and therefore the only tool which the Central government really has is the tool of cooperative federalism or competitive federalism… Many of the central-sponsored schemes, require focus and to my mind states have to play a key and critical role in the administration of these social schemes,” he reiterated.

Listing out other factors for India to achieve sustained growth of 9-10 per cent, Kant said the country needs to target sunrise areas of growth like electric mobility, battery storage, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, green hydrogen and green ammonia, fast growth of 5G technologies and genomics.

“The third thing for India to grow at 9-10 per cent is planned scientific urbanisation. In the coming five decades, India will see 500 million people getting into the process of urbanisation… Urbanisation can be a very big driver of growth and job creation for India ,” he said, adding this urbanisation has to be planned with public transport as the backbone.

Kant also said it was important for India to do technological leapfrogging by using its huge strength in digitisation and go “green” as far using of fuel in future was concerned.

Later while interacting with mediapersons on the sidelines, Kant said the latest exports and manufacturing data show that India is back on the path of growth after the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The latest study from IMF states that India will grow at 9.5 per cent during the current fiscal and at 8.5 per cent next year,” he said adding that the Government of India’s asset monetisation plan, structural reforms, GST collection will also push growth.

Earlier in the day, Rajiv Mehrishi, former Comptroller and Auditor General of India(CAG) while speaking at the same event at IIMA rued the lack of discussion on public policy both within and outside the government framework.

“In my opinion, India lacks public policy experts. It does not have enough schools for public policy and enough discussions on public policy. As a matter of fact, India has insufficient debate on policy issues, both within the government and outside,” Mehrishi said giving examples from primary school education and health sectors where spending from the government is on a lower side.

“The quality of primary school education in India is abysmal. The learning outcomes are extremely poor… we have created a system, where the education provided by government schools specially in rural areas and suburban towns is not good enough to compete with other children (attending private English meidum schools in urban areas),” he added. Mehrishi also talked about a “inconsistent” health system in the country where vacancies of doctors in state health and medical services is large.

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