In this meeting, Dr Dhiraj Nayyar discussed the establishment of NITI Aayog and its agenda going forward. Dr Nayyaris head of the macroeconomic and international trade sector at NITI. There are several connections between Australia and NITI through the High Commission, and a development of an exchange program between NITI and the Productivity Commission. There have also been initial talks of research collaboration between NITI and the East Asia Bureau of Economic Research (EABER).
NITI used to be the Indian Planning Commission, which was set up in the 1950s. The role of the Planning Commission came into question after the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991 but it remained to have an important role in developing five-year plans for the Indian economy and distributing financing among Indian states. However, when Prime Minister Modi won the election in 2014 he decided to do away with the Planning Commission. He felt that this kind of central body was not suited to 21st century India and that there should be a move away from a centralised system to one in which states had more authority to initiate and act upon policy. Some months were spent deciding whether anything should follow the Planning Commission and, if so, what form it should take. On 1 January 2015 NITI was established. NITI is a much more downsized version of the Planning Commission (1200 people to 500 people) and it does not take on the role of formulating five-year plans or allocating financial resources. It is primarily a think tank for the government and covers policy in areas including economics, agriculture, transport, building, and other infrastructure areas.