On January 1st 2015, Socialist-era Planning Commission is replaced by a new think-tank, National Institution for Transforming India (NITI) Aayog. The institution will serve as �Think Tank� of the Government-a directional and policy dynamo. NITI Aayog will provide Governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy, this includes matters of national and international importance 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.

As per Government�s press release, the new body is built to adapt to new challenges and must be built on the founding principles of the Constitution of India, the wealth of knowledge from our civilizational history and the present day socio-cultural context.

The NITI Aayog will comprise the following:

(a)Prime Minister of India as the Chairperson

(b)Governing Council comprising the Chief Ministers of all the States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories

(c)Regional Councils will be formed to address specific issues and contingencies impacting more than one state or a region. These will be formed for a specified tenure. The Regional Councils will be convened by the Prime Minister and will comprise of the Chief Ministers of States and Lt. Governors of Union Territories in the region. These will be chaired by the Chairperson of the NITI Aayog or his nominee.

(d) Experts, specialists and practitioners with relevant domain knowledge as special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister.

(e) The full-time organizational framework will comprise of, in addition to the Prime Minister as the Chairperson:

  1. Vice-Chairperson: Arvind Panagariya
  2. Members: Full-time - Bibek Debroy & VK Saraswat
  3. Part-time members: Maximum of 2 from leading universities research organizations and other relevant institutions in an ex-officio capacity. Part time members will be on a rotational basis(to be decided).
  4. Ex Officio members: Union ministers Rajnath Singh, Arun Jaitley, Suresh Prabhu and Radha Mohan Singh
  5. Chief Executive Officer : To be appointed by the Prime Minister for a fixed tenure, in the rank of Secretary to the Government of India.(to be decided)
  6. Secretariat as deemed necessary.

Now the NITI Aayog will recommend a national agenda, including strategic and technical advice on elements of policy and economic matters. It will also develop mechanisms for village-level plans and aggregate these progressively at higher levels of government. Since it has not started working, it is very difficult to make comparison between Planning Commission and NITI Aayog. However, the press release of the PMO indicates that the following will be major differences between Planning Commission and NITI Ayog:

Parameter NITI Aayog Planning Commission
Financial clout To be an advisory body, or a think-tank. The powers to allocate funds might be vested in the finance ministry Enjoyed the powers to allocate funds to ministries and state governments
Full-time members The number of full-time members could be fewer than Planning Commission The last Commission had eight full-time members
States' role State governments are expected to play a more significant role than they did in the Planning Commission States' role was limited to the National Development Council and annual interaction during Plan meetings
Member secretary To be known at the CEO and to be appointed by the prime minister Secretaries or member secretaries were appointment through the usual process
Part-time members To have a number of part-time members, depending on the need from time to time Full Planning Commission had no provision for part-time members