Earlier this week, the NITI Aayog rankings concerning healthcare were published and it gave rise to a fair number of arguments concerning the viability for such rankings.

However, it has attained the basic acclamation of being a fairly certified benchmark to measure progress. Thus, having numbers adjusted according to the development of the concerned infrastructure only makes it easier to perceive progress for a particular state.

However, this is a certain statement that the West Bengal state government doesn’t believe in as can be seen with their exclusion from the NITI Aayog Ranking list. The entirety of 2019-20 saw the entire nation go through extremes of emotional drawl as healthcare facilities were tested to their absolute limits.

Thus, this time around the NITI Aayog rankings stand testament to this very same struggle as much as it stands as testament to the future of healthcare in the country.

What Is NITI Aayog?

It is perfunctorily feasible to state that if you’re already reading this article then you have a basic idea of what NITI Aayog essentially is, yet, to support the entirety of the article it is essential to note how it is essential to note the progress of the country.

In essence, NITI Aayog is the government’s policy-making think tank that is essentially governed over by the Prime Minister. According to the official website of the think tank, it describes itself as;

“NITI Aayog is the premier policy think tank of the Government of India, providing directional and policy inputs. Apart from designing strategic and long-term policies and programmes for the Government of India, NITI Aayog also provides relevant technical advice to the Centre, States, and Union Territories.”

Apart from being governed by the Prime Minister, it consists of the Chief Ministers of all states and Lieutenant Governors of all Union Territories. This enables the body to advise the respective governments with any developmental policy that is to be undertaken. However, much of the power of the body ends at the advisory.

Also Read: NITI Aayog’s Innovation Index ‘20: Why Karnataka & Maharashtra Topped The List

Why Was West Bengal Not A Part Of The NITI Aayog Rankings?

For quite a few years, prior to 2021, Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, had declared her disdain for the role NITI Aayog plays in the governance of the country.

Her government’s disdain towards the think tank had been publicly visible as she declared it as a useless exercise as the think tank has perceivably no financial power to support the state. Her statement to the Prime Minister declining the invitation to the NITI Aayog meeting was in the form of a letter in 2019. She said;

“Given the fact that the Niti Aayog has no financial powers and the power to support state plans, it is fruitless for me to attend the meeting of a body that is bereft of any financial powers.”

The letter also stated that her disdain towards NITI Aayog arises from the fact that the National Planning Commission was given a silent burial to have it be replaced with the think tank. To put matters into perspective, there already exist numerous provisions that involve the formation and formulation of numerous such policy-making bodies with sufficient power to help the states.

In another excerpt from the same letter sent to the Prime Minister, Banerjee elaborated upon a multitude of alternatives to the NITI Aayog which had actual powers bestowed upon them. She writes;

“The experience of last four-and-half years we had with Niti Aayog brings me back to my earlier suggestion to you that we focus on Inter-State Council constituted under Article 263 of Constitution, with appropriate modifications to enable ISC to discharge its augmented range of functions as the nodal entity of the country.

This will deepen cooperative federalism and strengthen federal polity. May I also reiterate that the National Development Council, which has been given a quiet burial, may also be subsumed within the broadened constitutional body of the Inter-State Council.”

Thus, a similar disdain passed over to the 2021 meeting held in February as a senior member of the Trinamool Congress announced that Banerjee would not attend the meeting.

As was perceived later, she actually skipped out on the same. As is usual, it can be fairly understood as to why NITI Aayog contained data for every other state apart from West Bengal. As the rule states, it is the state’s prerogative to participate and if it chooses otherwise then it shall not be ranked.

How Did The States Fare This Time Around?

Concerning the handling of the pandemic and the holistic aspects of healthcare during the reference years of 2019-20. With the COVID pandemic, coupled with a multitude of its variants, it is fair to state that much of the state’s resources had thinned out to the absolute minimum. 

However, in the face of such turmoil states such as Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Telangana sufficiently steered the ship for their respective citizens. Kerala ranked first while Tamil Nadu and Telangana ranked second and third respectively.

It is also of the utmost importance to note that Uttar Pradesh, even after a myriad chest-thumping from its Chief Minister, Yogi Adityanath, booked its perennial spot at the bottom for another year.

Although the Chairman of the NITI Aayog praised the UP Govt for displaying improvement on various fronts, it is necessary to note that the improvements have been absolutely minimal. 

Alongside Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh have ranked second last and third last respectively on the rankings in the list for big states. 

Conclusively, no matter how one perceives NITI Aayog, it provides the states with the basic idea of the grounds upon which they should act upon. However, it is also necessary that the states receive funds on the grounds of the same, effectively through any Centre ordained body.

Image Sources: Google Images

Sources: Times of India, Economic Times, Business Standard

Connect with the blogger: @kushan257

This post is tagged under: Government, Think Tank, Niti Aayog, kerala, tamil nadu, mamata banerjee, west bengal, west bengal government, bengal, uttar pradesh,  bihar, madhya pradesh, policy making, niti aayog rankings, healthcare, medical, niti aayog healthcare rankings, central government, centre, Narendra modi, modi, bjp, tmc, trinamool congress, state government

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