Narendra Modi’s ‘NITI Aayog’, the body which replaces ‘Yojana Aayog’ (Planning Commission), will have a three-tier structure headed by the Prime Minister.

The Centre on Thursday issued a resolution highlighting 13-point objectives for the new body with focus on providing ‘national agenda’. NITI stands for National Institutions for Transforming India.

The body will have a Governing Council comprising State Chief Ministers and Lt. Governors of Union Territories, Regional Councils to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one State or a region, and full-time organisational framework headed by the Prime Minister. The three layers will be formed for a specified tenure.

However, the Opposition criticised the decision to establish NITI Aayog calling it a gimmickry. They said the new body cannot fulfil Centre’s promise of “cooperative federalism” and they feared that States will be discriminated by the new set-up. Regional parties urged the Centre to ensure that the new panel will have members specifically for States.

According to an official release, the Prime Minister, in the new body, will be assisted by a Vice-Chairperson and full-time members. There will be two part-time members who will be selected from leading universities, research organisations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity. Part-time members will be appointed on a rotational basis. Four Union Ministers will be ex-officio members. There will also be a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) with a fixed tenure and in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.

The Regional Councils will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog, the Prime Minister, or his nominee. Both General and Regional councils will have experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister.

NITI Aayog aims to foster cooperative federalism through structured support initiatives and mechanisms with the States on a continuous basis, recognising that strong States make a strong nation.

In a crucial departure from its earlier avatar, the new body will adopt a ‘Bottom Up’ approach, where decisions will be taken at the local level and then endorsed at the Central level. This is also reflected in one of the approach which says, “To develop mechanisms to formulate credible plans at the village level and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of Government.”

“The institution will serve as ‘Think Tank’ of the Government - a directional and policy dynamo,” the resolution said. It will provide the Centre and States with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy. This includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support.

The Cabinet in its meeting on August 13 approved the repeal of the Cabinet Resolution dated March 15, 1950 through which the Planning Commission was set up.

The Cabinet also authorised the Prime Minister to finalise the contours of the New Institution to replace the Planning Commission.