Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that states should develop a clear time-bound roadmap for the implementation of the National Education Policy (NEP) and focus on promoting trade, tourism and technology. He also asked for collective action to increase the collection of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).
During the seventh NITI Aayog Governing Council here, states, on the other hand, sought central assistance to help crop diversification. This was the first in-person NITI Aayog Governing Council meeting since 2019 where the prime minister interacted with chief ministers of states and lieutenant governors of Union Territories.
“Speaking on the NEP, the PM said the NEP has been formulated after considerable deliberations. He said we should involve all stakeholders in its implementation and develop a clear, time-bound roadmap for the same,” said an official statement.
Speaking at a media briefing after the meeting, NITI Aayog member V K Paul said that there was a strong consensus among states on the implementation of the NEP. “The prime minister said that NEP needs to be monitored every month by the relevant departments in the Centre and states,” Paul said.
The PM underlined the need for collective action to increase the GST mop-up, saying though the realisation has improved, “the potential is much more… and it is crucial for strengthening our economic position and becoming a $5-trillion economy”. The collection of GST has remained above Rs 1.4 trillion for the fifth month in a row. It increased 28 per cent year-on-year to nearly Rs 1.49 trillion in July — the second-highest mop-up since the rollout of the regime.
In his closing remarks, Modi said that each state should focus on promoting its own trade, tourism, and technology through every Indian Mission around the world. He said states must focus on reducing imports, increasing exports, and identifying opportunities for the same in every state.
The meeting was attended by 23 CMs, 3 LGs, and 2 administrators, besides Union ministers. The key agenda included crop diversification and achieving self-sufficiency in pulses, oilseeds, and other agri-commodities, the implementation of the NEP, and urban governance.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Suman Bery said crop diversification was the most extensively discussed topic at the meeting.
The PM reminded states that India was importing edible oil worth Rs 1 trillion annually, and that dependency needed to come down, said agriculture expert and Aayog Member Ramesh Chand at the media briefing. Chand said states presented their own roadmap for crop diversification via incentivising farmers to shift to pulses and oilseeds, and highlighted their achievement in raising the production of these crops.
“Most states asked for central help for quicker diversification towards oilseeds and pulses, and also wanted higher minimum support price for both,” he said.
At the governing council meeting, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave a presentation on India’s Presidency of G20, and how states can take advantage of India hosting the summit. “The G20 Presidency presents a great opportunity and great responsibility. For the first time in the history of G20, India will host G20 meetings over a year, not only in Delhi, but in every state and Union Territory,” he said.
Modi said that there should be a dedicated team for G20 in states to derive the maximum possible benefit from this initiative.
This in-person meeting of the governing council came after a two-year break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It also came against the backdrop of some persisting issues between the Centre and states, especially in health care, management of the pandemic, sharing of revenue resources, and inflation control.
Modi said that every state played a crucial role according to its strength and contributed to India’s fight against Covid.
“NITI Aayog will intensify its efforts to act as an honest broker between the Centre and states on various outstanding issues,” said its CEO Parameshwar Iyer at the media briefing.