NITI Aayog, Ramesh Chand - Current Affairs Questions and Answers

1)   NITI Aayog has partnered with which three states to improve healthcare delivery?

a. MP, Odisha and Jharkhand
b. UP, Assam and Karnataka
c. MP, Assam and Karnataka
d. UP, Odisha and Jharkhand
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: UP, Assam and Karnataka

Explanation:
In a major push to competitive, cooperative federalism, NITI Aayog on Aug 8, 2017 launched a partnership with three States each to radically transform their Health and Education sectors.

NITI Aayog has selected Uttar Pradesh, Assam, and Karnataka to improve healthcare delivery and key outcomes in these States.

In Education, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand have been selected for support to better learning outcomes.

The six States have been chosen after a rigorous competitive process based on comprehensive metrics to determine potential for impact and likelihood of success.

States were called to, first, express intent of collaborating with NITI Aayog to better their Health and Education indices.

States then made presentations for each sector which was assessed by a committee comprised of senior members of NITI Aayog and Health and Education ministries.

The States highlighted 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.

On thorough technical evaluation, the chosen States have committed to time-bound, governance reforms in both sectors.

A Program Management Unit to push for efficiency and efficacy in governance structures and service delivery will now be available in the six chosen States for a period of 30 months.

It is expected that these three years of focussed attention and support from the premier think tank will lead to a marked transformation and also provide a model for other States to replicate and adapt.

This three-way partnership between NITI, State Governments and a knowledge partner for each of the sectors is part of the Sustainable Action for Transforming Human Capital (SATH) initiative of NITI Aayog.

SATH by NITI Aayog: Know More

  • NITI Aayog has been working to foster co-operative federalism by ranking states through health, water, education, and agricultural indices.
  • However, SATH has been launched to go beyond ranking states and to handhold them in improving their social sector indicators.
  • SATH is a challenging and ambitious initiative as the baseline of various indicators and parameters of education and health in the States are in public domain.
  • 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.
  • 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.


2)   Dr. Rajiv Kumar has been appointed vice president of which government think tank?

a. ICAR
b. CSIR
c. NITI Aayog
d. CPR
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: NITI Aayog

Explanation:
Economist Dr. Rajiv Kumar has been appointed as the new vice-chairman of the government think tank NITI Aayog.

Present vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya had stepped down earlier this month.

The Columbia University professor will be returning to the U.S. to rejoin academia.

The spokesperson added that Dr. Vinod Paul, paediatrician at AIIMS, has also been appointed as a member of the NITI Aayog.

Dr. Kumar, who holds a DPhil in economics from Oxford and a Ph. D from Lucknow University, has served as director and chief executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), and has earlier worked with the Asian Development Bank.

He was also a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research.


Kumar, a former CEO of Delhi-based think-tank Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER), will replace Arvind Panagariya.

Kumar is currently the founding director of Pahle India Foundation, a non-profit research organisation that specialises in policy-oriented research and analysis.

He is also chancellor of the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics in Pune.

Until January this year, he was a senior fellow at Centre for Policy Research (CPR), and is widely regarded for his work in the areas of India’s economy and national security.

Before coming to CPR, he was Secretary General of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

He has also served as Director and Chief Executive of the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) and chief economist of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII), as well as in positions with the Asian Development Bank, the Indian Ministry of Industries, and the Ministry of Finance.

His latest books are: Modi & His Challenges (2016), Resurgent India: Ideas and Priorities (2015) and Exploding Aspirations: Unlocking India's Future (2014).

Kumar will take over as the second Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog.

Panagariya will demit office on August 31 at the nascent institution that was set up in January 2015 replacing the erstwhile Planning Commission.

The NITI Aayog is currently drafting a 15-year long-term plan, which will replace the practice of five-year plans.

The five-year plan system will be discontinued after the end of the 12th five year plan in 2017, ending six-decade old policy framework inspired by the Gosplan-aided industrialisation.

Kumar will also likely head the NITI Aayog panel that is modernising India’s labour data to give a more realistic picture about the jobs market in an economy characterised by a large informal sector.

Kumar concurrently serves as:

  • a government-nominated independent director on Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India,
  • a member of the International Board of Management of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Centre, Riyadh;
  • director, Institute of Human Development, Delhi;
  • director, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow;
  • independent director on the Board of DHFL; and member, Advisory Board of CISCO, India.
In the past, he served as the Indian government’s nominee on the boards of Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and Asia (ERIA) Jakarta.

He was also on Central Board of the State Bank of India (SBI), Mumbai; Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi; Part Time Member, National Security Advisory Board (2006-2008).

He was also Part Time Member Economics, TRAI, New Delhi (2007-2010).


3)   Who has stepped down as Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog to pursue a career in Academia?

a. Raghuram Rajan
b. Arvind Panagriya
c. Shashi Tharoor
d. Montek Singh Ahluwalia
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Arvind Panagriya

Explanation:
Arvind Panagariya has stepped down as Vice Chairman of the government think tank NITI Aayog.

The Columbia University professor will be returning to the US to rejoin academia.

The noted economist, who was appointed to the post by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015, has written to Mr Modi requesting to be relived by the end of the month as he has not been granted an extension of leave from Columbia University.

Mr Panagariya, 64, told reporters that he had expressed his desire to rejoin academia to the Prime Minister about two months back.

He is a Professor of Indian Political Economy at Columbia University.

His last day in office will be August 31 and he is likely to rejoin the University on September 5.

Prime Minister is the Chairman of the Niti Aayog.

Mr Panagariya holds a Ph. D in Economics from Princeton University and has also worked for the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in various capacities.

The economist had recently said that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) could rise to about USD 8 trillion over the next 15 years if the country registers an economic growth of 8% annually.


4)   The New Energy Policy prepared by NITI Aayog has indicated which state controlled PSU should be split into 7 units?

a. CIL
b. ONGC
c. BHEL
d. MTNL
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: CIL

Explanation:
A new draft of a New Energy Policy (NEP) prepared by Union Government’s policy think-tank, NITI Aayog, says that India should split the seven units of state-controlled Coal India Limited (CIL) into independent companies.

This action will help the firm to be more competitive.

About 70 percent of India’s power generation is fired by coal.

The country is the world’s third-largest producer and third-biggest importer of coal, which the government wants to change by boosting local coal production.

Fresh coal production should come from private sector mines, the government think-tank NITI Aayog said, adding that the move called for reforms in allocating coal blocks to independent companies specialised in coal mining.

Attempts to break up the world’s biggest coal miner could expect resistance from powerful unions representing the firm’s more than 350000 employees.

The government backed down from a similar proposal in the face of union protests in 2014. One of the unions, which is close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party, is against the move and says it, has the support of about half of Coal India’s workers.

CIL: Know More

  • Coal India, the country’s second-biggest employer, is often criticised for being bloated and inefficient. Its output-per-man shift is estimated at one-eighth of Peabody Energy, the world’s largest private coal producer.
  • The policy states that Coal India Ltd (CIL) is expected to remain the principal vehicle of coal production in the country in the immediate future.
  • But it says that it will have to strive hard to achieve the target of 1 billion tonne production by 2019. However, with subdued demand for coal, we may not require the production level envisaged above.
  • A careful assessment of demand for coal-based power is needed so that the over $1 billion annual investment being made by CIL, in raising its production capacity is not left stranded.


5)   Which city saw the country's first e-vehicle services for a taxi aggregator launched?

a. Solapur
b. Kolhapur
c. Nagpur
d. Jabalpur
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Nagpur

Explanation:
Marking the third anniversary of the Narendra Modi government, Union surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari along with chief minister Devendra Fadnavis flagged off taxi aggregator Ola’s e-vehicle (EV) services in the city.

It will be the first in country to have such a service.

A battery charging station for the vehicles was also inaugurated at the airport where the launch function was held.

State government will come up with measures to promote setting up of charging stations.

This is expected to be a major job provider especially to the technically educated youth.

To begin with, Ola will be having four charging centres in the city.

Its services will include taxis, auto-rickshaws and a couple of buses. Car-maker Mahindra and Mahindra is the major ally of Ola and is supplying 200 taxis.

The company also launched its e-autorickshaws on the occasion. Kinetic Green has provided 100 e-rickshaws to Ola.

This is India’s first multi-modal electric vehicle project at the Nagpur Airport Complex.

The pilot project will have a fleet of 200 electric vehicles including taxis, buses, e-rickshaw and autorickshaws.

All these electric-powered public transport vehicles will be fully owned by cab aggregator Ola. For the project Mahindra & Mahindra has manufactured 100 e2o electric taxis.

Similarly, vehicles have been sourced from other manufacturers like Tata Motors, Kinetic, BYD and TVS, among others.

In addition, four electric charging station has also been built by Ola in various places of Nagpur including the Nagpur airport.

Shared and electric vehicles: Know More

  • As per the NITI Aayog’s recent joint report with Rock Mountain Institute, adoption of electric and shared vehicles could help the country to save $60 billion in fuels while cutting down as much as 1 gigatonne (GT) of carbon emission by 2030
  • According to Mahindra & Mahindra, it has made a total investment to the tune of Rs600 crore in technology, products, and plants of e-vehicles.
  • The company already has manufactured 2,700 e-vehicles which are running across India which are clocking around 14 million kms per day.
  • Ola has stated that it has invested Rs50 crore in the Nagpur initiative and has plans to further scale up its operations by investing $2 billion in e-vehicles across all cities of India.
  • It has set an ambitious target of running one million electricity-powered vehicles on the Ola platform by 2020.


6)   Who chaired the first Niti Aayog Samavesh meeting held in New Delhi on May 17, 2017?

a. Amitabh Kant
b. Ratan P Watal
c. Both of the above
d. Neither of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both of the above

Explanation:
In pursuance of the Prime Minister’s call for a New India 2022, the first meeting of the National Steering Group and other knowledge partners was held in NITI Aayog on 17th May 2017 under the co-chairmanship of Shri Amitabh Kant, CEO and Shri Ratan P Watal, Principal Adviser, NITI Aayog.

The meeting was aimed at bringing together 32 premier educational and policy research institutions to catalyse the development process, enhance institutional capacity development and a field level interface with the community for New India 2022.

The meeting witnessed signing of Memoranda of Understands (MoUs) between NITI Aayog and major think tanks across the country to create an ecosphere of evidence based policy research.

This network will enable efficient knowledge sharing and information exchange among all partners to fulfil their role in transformative policy reform so as to achieve a sustainable and more inclusive development in line with the National Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals as well as the 15 year Vision, 7 year strategy and 3 year action plan.

The meeting was also attended by representatives of four State Governments viz. Kerala, Assam, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

This is the first ever initiative taken in the country to bring the large number of institutions cutting across diverse domain themes to deliberate together on the way forward for inclusive development of the country.

As part of Samavesh initiative, a new link on NITI’s website was launched on the occasion which would eventually emerge as a major repository of knowledge based reports and case studies across different sectors of the economy


7)   NITI Aayog has set up a task force to _________.

a. Generate timely employment data
b. Generate reliable employment information
c. Both of the above
d. Neither of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both of the above

Explanation:
The government has set up a task force headed by NITI Aayog vice-chairman Arvind Panagariya to come up with a methodology to generate timely and reliable employment data.

The Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has initiated the process and has asked the task force to submit its recommendations at the earliest.

The other members of the task force are labour secretary M. Sathiyavathy, secretary of the statistics department T.C.A. Ananth, NITI Aayog’s Pulak Ghosh and Manish Sabharwal, chairman and co-founder of staffing firm Teamlease Services Ltd.

India lacks reliable data on jobs. The available data is currently outdated.

The data on jobs in the informal sector which employs country’s majority of the workforce is not easily available.

Also, the data released by the Labour Bureau is restricted to the organized sector. National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) data which is the most comprehensive data available on jobs is generated with a time lag.

Better data on jobs data will help policy planners assess the impact of policies on jobs and will shed light on the actual size of the informal economy

India’s Labour Market

  • India’s labour market constitutes of over 470 million people.
  • According to CRISIL, around 18 million people enter the workforce every year.
  • As per the data with the NSSO, India had created around 59.9 million jobs between 1999-2000 and 2004-05 and created nearly two million jobs between 2004-05 and 2009-10.
  • Between 2009-10 and 2011-12, 13.9 million jobs were created in the country.


8)   What is part of the Niti Aayog 5 point remedy to tackle air pollution?

a. Higher taxes on petrol/diesel
b. Higher parking fees
c. The shutting of coal based power plants in phased manner
d. All of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: All of the above

Explanation:
Underlining air pollution as a serious problem, the government's think tank Niti Aayog in its latest action agenda has come out with a five-point remedy.

This is including higher taxes on petrol\diesel, higher parking fees and shutting down coal-based power plants in a phased manner, to deal with the menace within three years.

The Aayog suggested has already been in different phases of implementation under the government's plan of action, its emphasis may help states and central ministries to execute the measures on priority.

Listing coal-based power plants, brick kilns, vehicles (especially diesel), cooking and heating fires which burn biomass, waste burning, stubble burning and dust from construction, roads and fallow fields as “major sources of air pollution”, the Aayog noted that the problem is not limited to Delhi.

It wanted the government to take corrective action and strictly enforce various bans and traffic laws across the country.

The Aayog expressed its confidence that air pollution can be considerably reduced within three years through actions on the ground.

Suggesting higher taxes on petrol\diesel in and around polluted cities, the Aayog said the measure would encourage people to share cars and use public transport in bigger numbers.

It noted, the higher parking fees will have similar effect.

As far as stubble burning is concerned, the think-tank indicated that the crop residue burning is a very large contributor to air pollution in early winter in north India.

As productivity of wheat crop depends on early planting after rice is harvested, farmers burn residue in order to prepare the field quickly despite resulting pollution - as seen across farms in Punjab, Haryana and western UP.

The Aayog suggested use of ‘Happy Seeder' — a machine developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia and Punjab Agricultural University.

This allows planting of wheat through the residue.

In a section which elaborated on measures to deal with vehicular pollution in the cities, also proposed was a shift to electric vehicles in the long run.

The Aayog has also suggested regulation of polluting industries and disposal of solid waste and pitched for legislative route so that pollution control boards (PCBs) are empowered to “levy graduated fines” depending on the seriousness of the offence and on repeated offence.


9)   Which committee will be dismantled to improve ease of doing business?

a. Finance Ministry Committee for PPP projects
b. PPCAC
c. PPAC
d. Both a and c
e. All the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: Both a and c

Explanation:
The Central government has proposed to dismantle the finance ministry committee which gives approval to PPP projects to speed up the procedural delays and fostering ease of doing business.

NITI Aayog may be given charge of these projects.

The move follows the planned dismantling of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

As per the current rules, PPP projects above 1000-Cores are sent to PPPAC and then to the Cabinet for approval.

PPPAC was created in 2006 under the Department of Economic Affairs in the Finance Ministry.

It is comprised of the secretaries of economic affairs, expenditure and legal affairs along with the department sponsoring the project and the NITI Aayog CEO.


10)   A “Performance on Health Outcomes” index was spearheaded by Ministry of Health and Family welfare along with which organisation?

a. NITI Aayog
b. Planning Commission
c. RBI
d. None of the above
Answer  Explanation 

ANSWER: NITI Aayog

Explanation:
A Performance on Health Outcomes index was launched by NITI Aayog in conjunction with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, to move states towards transformative action in the health sector.

The index has been developed over several months, with inputs from domestic and international experts, including academicians and development partners, seeking feedback from States through multiple iterations and pre-testing the indicators in two States prior to its finalisation.

It aims to capture the annual incremental improvements by States, rather than focus on historical achievements.

It includes index covering domains of health outcomes governance and information and a few key inputs and processes.

This initiative is envisioned to bring about the much required improvements in social sector outcomes, which have not kept pace with the economic growth in this country.

It will be used to propel action in the States to improve health outcomes and improve data collection systems.

The health index will assist in State level monitoring of performance, serve as an input for providing performance based incentives and improvement in health outcomes, thereby also meeting the citizens’ expectations.

A similar exercise has also been launched for the Education and Water sectors.

NITI Aayog: Know More

  • Full Form: National Institution for Transforming India
  • Formed: Jan 1, 2015.
  • Preceding: Planning Commission
  • Headquarters: New Delhi
  • Chairman: Narendra Modi
  • Vice Chairman: Arvind Panagriya
  • Members: Bibek Debroy, VK Saraswat, Ramesh Chand.
  • CEO: Amitabh Kant
  • Website: www.niti.gov.in


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