New Delhi: Dr. Rajiv Kumar has taken charge as the new vice chairman of NITI Aayog on Friday. He replaces Arvind Panagariya as the head of the premier think tank of the country.

Addressing a press conference in the capital after assuming office, he said the priority would be to carry forward the spirit of Team India for a better future, keeping in mind the aspirations of millions across the country.

The new Vice Chairman said there would be more emphasis on improving government capacity at the state level to ensure the values of co-operative and competitive federalism. He underlined the need to bring in out of the box thinking and ideas to bring about transformational changes in the country to fulfil the Prime Minister’s dreams of a Shreshtha Bharat.

Dr. Kumar said policy making should not be elitist, rather it should be rooted in ground realities. He added that participative governance involving various sections of society can ensure that development becomes a mass movement. He said that in the Indian context, cross cutting issues are very important be it agriculture, environment, water, finances, investment and so on. NITI Aayog is well placed to play the role of a platform that cuts across these issues. The thematic focus will be on generating employment, enhancing investment, improving ease of doing business, transforming agriculture, and reforming education and health.

The new Vice Chairman highlighted the need to tap into the potential of the social capital of the country to have an Indian Model of Development. The focus would be on generating employment to meet the rising aspirations of the people and for India to earn the demographic dividend. There is also the need to capitalize on our intellectual capacity.

The vice chairman intends to visit all states over the next three months and to begin with he would visit NE states. He said it would be a good idea to have sub groups of states such as Himalayan or NE/ Gangetic / Blue economy states and they should have state specific blue prints of their own. That would be more effective in reducing regional inequalities. NITI would play the role of a consultant as well as a catalyst to help states achieve their goals.

Members of NITI Aayog, Ramesh Chand, VKSaraswat, Dr.VKPaul and CEO NITI Aayog,  Amitabh Kant were present on this occasion.