NITI Aayog has initiated a unique and novel initiative to catalyse transformational change in key Social Sectors. Under SATH (Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital), NITI Aayog and its knowledge partners will provide strategic, technical and implementation support to three states for each sector. A Committee comprising of Member, NITI Aayog , Sh Bibek Debroy, CEO, Amitabh Kant, Advisers of NITI Aayog and representatives of Health and Education Ministry spent two days assessing and vetting presentations by 14 States for each of the two social sectors. The States showcased the initiatives undertaken by them thus far, their willingness to accelerate improvement and justified why they should be selected for the institutional support being offered by NITI Aayog under the program.
Transformative change in social sector is challenging as the pace is slow, as compared to the infrastructure sector. The issues are multi-layered and complex, involving both governance and building capacity of human capital. NITI Aayog has taken up this challenge and has decided to deep dive into handholding the States through a time bound and outcome oriented process. After final selection of the States, a Program Management Unit to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery will be available at the State level for a period of 30 months. It is expected that these 36 months of focussed attention and support from the premier think tank will lead to a marked transformation and will also provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt.
In Health sector, five States have been shortlisted as run up to the final selection of three. These are, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam, Karnataka and Gujarat. Similarly in Education, the shortlisted States are Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh. In both sectors, the States have to commit to a time-bound focus, governance reforms and delivery of outcomes for final selection for the partnership. The proposed partnership of NITI Aayog, States and a knowledge partner is challenging and ambitious as the baseline of various indicators and parameters of education and health in the States are in public domain. All stakeholders will be under pressure from the day of signing of the MOU to initiate reforms or processes which will show improvement in education and learning outcomes.
The initiative is interesting on another theoretical level too, as it defines a new dimension for cooperative federalism, where NITI Aayog and its knowledge partner will actively aid implementation of their recommendations, in addition to just policy inputs. Depending on the promptness of the response of governance commitments posed to them, the final selection of the three States in each of the sectors is expected to be completed in July 2017.