NITI Aayog : Mechanism to Strengthen Neoliberal Regime

The process of winding up of the Commission had already initiated by the Manmohan Singh government by inviting a neo-liberal economist who had been a Fund-Bank employee to head the Commission. Modi government has gone the whole length and has completed this process. In fact the winding up of the Planning Commission itself marks a major step towards the consolidation of a neo-liberal State. As we know, Neoliberal Policy measures include opening of the economy to free cross-border movements of capital, including, in particular, finance capital. Thus in a Country which follows neo liberal policy, always try to make policy which is liked by finance or capitalists. If the state follows the measures that are disliked by finance, then finance would pull out of the country and move elsewhere; and, since such movements can be quite large, the economy would find itself in an acute crisis. In a neoliberal economy, therefore, the state is forever caught in the attempt to retain �the confidence of the investors� in the economy. In other words neoliberal state always attempts for keeping finance capital happy. After adopting New Economic Policy, India also became a neo-liberal State and now Government, through ordinances (like the land acquisition ordinance), invites multinational corporations to take over even core sectors. Formation of NITI Aayog is also a step toward strengthening this neoliberal mechanism. The old Planning Commission played a progressive role through snatching control over its national resources from multinational corporations. Now the �Niti Ayog� will not play this role. There are at least two ways in which centralization of economic power will increase under the new dispensation: First, the winding up of the Planning Commission will inevitably mean a strengthening of the Ministry of Finance, which is a far more closely controlled Departmental body of the Central government than the Planning Commission. As we know there were typically three channels for the devolution of resources from the Centre to the states in India: One was through the Finance Commission, the second was through the Planning Commission and the third was through the Ministry of Finance which was a conventional departmental body and made financial transfers to states at its own discretion. The winding up of the Planning Commission will necessarily mean, therefore, that the flows of fund which used to go through the Planning Commission channel will now be flowed through the Ministry of Finance. This means that transfer of fund from Centre to State would be largely controlled by the Centre. In other words, Now Central Government will mainly decide the flows of fund from Centre to State. The second reason of winding up of the Planning Commission is abolition of the National Development Council. The National Development Council, to which the Planning Commission reported, was a forum where state Chief Ministers expressed themselves, not just on issues affecting their own states but on national development issues. Now there will be few Regional Councils where the Prime Minister will sit with the state chief ministers. This necessarily means a downgrading of the voice of the states in matters concerning national economic development. For both these reasons, in other words, centralization of economic and political powers, are the main reasons to dismantle the Planning Commission. Now question arises why this centralization of economic power in hands of Central Government. This in turn means that the Finance Ministry will become the apex of economic power which implies that a handful of nominees of international finance capital, recruited into this Ministry, run the entire economy. Other reason for this centralisation is the attempt of creation of political authoritarianism by the Modi Government. Political authoritarianism of the Centre will become unsustainable, unless there is a centralization of economic power in its hands. Thus substitution of the Planning Commission by the NITI Ayog is not just a means of providing greater elbow room to the corporate-financial oligarchy; it is simultaneously a means of curbing the states� economic powers.