NITI Aayog: Functions, Members, Objectives, NITI Aayog UPSC Notes

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

NITI Aayog stands for “National Institution for Transforming India,” which was formed on 01 January 2015 by the Prime Minister of India as a replacement for the Planning Commission, which had a legacy of 65 years. The significance and work of the Planning Commission had been questioned for a long time. Therefore, the NITI Aayog was formed to maximize governance, promoting national economic interests and cooperative federalism.

NITI Aayog can be fairly compared to being the think tank of the government of India that provides directions for work style. NITI Aayog UPSC is an important part of the Civil Services examination. Questions can be asked on this topic in both Prelims and Mains exams. Know more about NITI Aayog members, objectives, structure, functions, achievements, etc., below in detail.

What is NITI Aayog?

Niti is a Sanskrit word that means moral guidance and making policies. Keeping this essence in mind, on January 1st, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi introduced the NITI Aayog, which stands for National Institution for Transforming India. NITI Aayog is considered a booster for the economic growth of the country, which will further help India evolve as a strong economy on a global platform.

  • Chairman of NITI Aayog – Narendra Modi
  • Vice-Chairman of NITI Aayog – Dr Rajiv Kumar (September 2017 – present).


NITI Aayog is an essential organisation and a policy think tank of the Government of India. It replaced the Planning Commission of India and is an executive body that provides inputs on different issues and policies. From the perspective of the UPSC Exam, it is a highly significant topic that every candidate must prepare for. Here are a few points to help you make NITI Aayog UPSC notes for the Prelims and Mains exam:

NITI Aayog Notes for UPSC

  • It was established in 2015 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
  • The main aim of NITI Aayog is to achieve sustainable development goals through the participation of state governments in economic policy-making.
  • It provides advice to the central and state governments on a range of important policy issues.
  • Hence, it acts as a bridge between the central and state governments to foster cooperation and coordination.
  • NITI Aayog also promotes research and innovation in areas of national and international importance.

NITI Aayog UPSC Questions

Here are a few sample UPSC Mains questions related to NITI Aayog:

  1. What is the main objective of NITI Aayog and how does it differ from the erstwhile Planning Commission? Discuss its key functions and role in policy-making in India.
  2. Explain the concept of cooperative federalism in the context of NITI Aayog. How does NITI Aayog foster cooperation and coordination between the central and state governments?
  3. Discuss the significance of NITI Aayog in promoting sustainable development in India. Highlight its initiatives and policy recommendations in areas such as renewable energy, environmental conservation, and climate change mitigation.
  4. Analyze the role of NITI Aayog in fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in India. Discuss its initiatives to promote the startup ecosystem and support the growth of MSMEs (Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises) in the country.
  5. Critically evaluate the performance of NITI Aayog in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of government programs and initiatives. Highlight its strengths, limitations, and suggest measures for improvement.
  6. Examine the role of NITI Aayog in promoting digital transformation and leveraging technology for inclusive development in India. Discuss its initiatives in areas such as digital infrastructure, e-governance, and digital literacy.

Functions of NITI Aayog

The concept of NITI Aayog was introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 1st January 2015. The major functions of NITI Aayog are as follows:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi abolished the 65-year-old Planning Commission on August 13th, 2014, and replaced it with the NITI Aayog.
  • The important point to be noted here is that it was established in the same manner as the Planning Commission was created, i.e., by executive resolution. Therefore, it is neither a statutory nor a constitutional body but an executive body.
  • It is a policy think tank of the Indian government and provides policy-related and directional input to the government of India. Another important point is that, apart from assisting the government of India, it also helps the states and centres with technical advice.
  • Compared to the previous planning commission approaches, NITI Aayog provides diversified points of view collaboratively rather than being confrontationist.

Documents Published by NITI Aayog

The NITI Aayog also planned to release three documents —

  • 3-year action agenda
  • 7-year medium-term strategy paper
  • 15-year vision document.

NITI Aayog Members

There are many people involved in the functioning of this Commission. The list of NITI Aayog members is as follows:

  • The Chairperson of NITI Aayog, who is also the Prime Minister of India.
  • Chief Ministers of all states and union territories, as well as Lieutenant Governors of union territories.
  • Regional Councils: These are constituted to address the contingencies which impact more than one state. The members of regional councils have a fixed tenure, and these are convened by the PM. The Regional Council is composed of Chief Ministers of states and lieutenant governors of union territories.
  • Special Invitees: special invitees are nominated by the Prime Minister and are expert practitioners and specialists in a particular domain.
  • Full-term organizational framework: It consists of the vice-chairpersons, the members, part-time members, ex-officio members, the chief executive officer, and the secretariat.

7 Pillars of NITI Aayog

The 7 pillars of NITI Aayog are based on good governance and they form the theme of the think tank.

  1. Pro-people
  2. Pro-activity
  3. Participation
  4. Empowering
  5. Inclusion of all
  6. Equality
  7. Transparency

Objectives of NITI Aayog

It is important for UPSC aspirants to know the objectives of NITI Aayog, as direct questions often come from this section in the exam.

  • The first objective of NITI Aayog is to involve and enhance a shared vision to keep national development as a priority, along with the active participation of all states.
  • To prepare and formulate the plans at the grassroots level in the villages and work on them seriously and progressively at the higher levels of government.
  • It also aims to keep a check on the sections of society that are falling behind or are not benefitting adequately financially.
  • It prepares the plans, policies, and frameworks for long-term progress and monitors the efficiency of programs.
  • It is an overall watchdog that also focuses on upgrading technology and implementing it in the programs and initiatives of the government of India.
  • It works on program implementation for the government of India, as well as identifying basic needs and resources to improve people’s livelihoods.

Indexes released by NITI Aayog

Apart from the reports published, there are several indices and indexes released by NITI Aayog, such as Health Index, Global Innovation Index, etc. Look at the list of the indexes released by the NITI Aayog as follows:

  • Composite Water Management Index
  • District Hospital Index
  • Export Preparedness Index
  • Global Innovation Index
  • India Innovation Index
  • Multidimensional Poverty Index
  • School Education Quality Index
  • SDG India Index
  • State Energy Index
  • State Health Index

NITI Aayog Three year Action Plan

One of the documents published by NITI Aayog is the three-year action agenda, the details of which are given below:

  • This 3-year Action Plan agenda is an integral part of the Aayog that leads to the visual and strategic document.
  • The NITI Aayog three-year action plan is a document from 2017 to 2020.
  • This document explains the changes in the policies and programs for the actions between 2017 and 2020.
  • This 3-year Action Plan offers proposals that suggest policy changes in a short period of time.

Achievements of NITI Aayog

The Government of India’s premier policy think tank, NITI Aayog, provides directional, policy, and relevant technical advice to the Centre, States, and Union Territories. The achievements of the NITI Aayog are:

  • It has played a significant role in strengthening the Ayushman Bharat Scheme. It held extensive peer reviews of health benefits packages for PMJAY.
  • In collaboration with the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (MoHFW) and with the technical assistance of the World Bank, it has been spearheading the World Health Outcome Index.
  • The Aspirational District Program is fostering the transformation in the health and nutrition sectors with the involvement of district officers under the leadership of District Collectors.
  • It examined and made recommendations to the draft National Commission for Homoeopathy (NCH) Bill, 2018, the National Commission for Indian System of Medicine Bill, 2018, and the National Commission for Yoga & Naturopathy Bill, 2018.
  • Monitoring and Analysing Food and Agricultural Policies (MAFAP) programme in India.
  • Village Storage Scheme and Dhaanya Lakshmi Village Storage Scheme are the brainchildren of NITI Aayog.
  • Natural farming is being promoted as the ‘Bhartiya Prakritik Krishi Paddhati’ programme under Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY).
  • It is following an extremely participative approach in preparing the Strategy for New India by 2022.

Difference Between NITI Aayog and Planning Commission

As the planning commission is now replaced by NITI Aayog, here are a few highlighted differences between the two:

NITI Aayog Planning Commission
It is a think tank and is advisory in nature. It was an extra-constitutional body.
Bottom-up approach to governance The top-Down approach of governance
NITI Aayog members are experts and have varied expertise Members had limited experience
Cooperative Federalism, where states are included Limiter involvement of states
No powers to allocate funds. It had the power to allocate funds


NITI Aayog’s functions include:

  • Formulating national and regional development strategies.
  • Promoting cooperative federalism by involving states in policy-making and planning processes.
  • Providing technical support and expertise to the central and state governments.
  • Monitoring and evaluating the implementation of government programs and initiatives.
  • Fostering innovation, entrepreneurship, and startup ecosystem in India.
  • Collaborating with international organizations and institutions to learn from global best practices.
  • Undertaking specific projects and initiatives to address developmental challenges.

The establishment of NITI Aayog reflects the government’s vision to move away from the centralized planning model and adopt a more decentralized and participative approach in shaping India’s development agenda.

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