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By the Way

Federal ruptures

Despite tensions between the Centre and the various states in the past, the erstwhile Planning Commission proved to be both a safety valve to let off steam, as well as a constructive agency to marry financial and investment interests in a federal structure. After it transformed into NITI Aayog, and the Centre gave more financial leeway to the states in terms of transfer of central revenues, the states are in a bind. Despite the independence that the states have now, there is no collective interaction with the Centre, and there is no grievances-exchange mechanism. This has partially ruptured the Centre-states’ exchanges, especially at the level of the respective civil servants. While the Centre is able to push the states to implement the central schemes, the states are unable to air their apprehensions, and get a clear-cut financial vision. Despite the great fanfare with which NITI Aayog was set up, it has become a research adjunct to the Centre, and the former isn’t sure if it is simultaneously representing the views of the states, or working in some kind of a vacuum. This has impacted the mindset of the officials in NITI Aayog. Most of them were appointed for three years, and their terms are coming to an end. They are unsure whether their tenures will be extended for another few months until May 2019. Hence, there is a general exodus as many officials are leaving, or have left the organisation. In a federal structure, the connections between the Centre and states, at least at the administrative and governance level, may be tense, but it is necessary.

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