Get approval for any news article before publication, NITI Aayog tells officials

NITI Aayog has instructed its officials to have “all Op-Eds/articles” approved – by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in the case of senior officials, and by the “respective advisers” in the case of junior officials – before to send for “external publication” to any media.

In a communication to its officials, dated May 12, the leading government think tank said: “The undersigned is required to transmit, for strict compliance, that all editorials/articles written by officers/officials of NITI Aayog , in which they identify themselves as an officer/civil servant/employee of NITI Aayog, which are sent for external publication in newspapers/magazines/news sites, etc. must be duly approved by the respective adviser…Advisors’ articles principals/advisors/vertical heads must be approved by the CEO.”

“All Op-Eds/Articles should be sent for publication only through Vertical Communication…Vertical Communication will take the final call to find out if the Op-Ed/Article meets the minimum quality standards acceptable for publication. external publication,” he said.

Sources said apart from the written communication, NITI Aayog officials were also verbally told to comply with the order. This was conveyed recently during one of the Monday meetings attended by NITI Vice President Suman Bery, CEO Parameswaran Iyer and other members and officials, sources said.

Bery took over as Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog effective May 1, 2022, while Iyer joined on July 11.

When contacted, the official spokesperson for NITI Aayog said, “NITI Aayog, a government think tank, has issued general notices from time to time, encouraging due diligence when publishing articles. It is unfortunate that The Indian Express seems to misinterpret routine notices. NITI Aayog has always encouraged its employees to think and express themselves creatively, keeping in mind the rules of conduct of the government.

The spokesperson, however, did not specify the dates on which these notices were issued. According to sources, no such communication has been published in the recent past.

The decision is significant given NITI Aayog’s role as a think tank. There are about a dozen advisors within NITI Aayog, heading different divisions and verticals. Advisers and Principal Advisers have the rank of Assistant Secretaries and Additional Secretaries. In addition, there are several vertical heads.

Jacob L. Thornton