Shri Rao said that a major task before the NITI Aayog, constituted recently, is to actively monitor and evaluate implementation of programmes and initiatives. The Minister stated that with Central Plan expenditure of the order of Rs. 5.75 lakh crore (i.e. about US$ 92 billion) were being channelized per year for development, it was absolutely necessary that there is concurrent, comprehensive, credible and reliable evaluation.
He stressed the need for time-bound, ethical and credible evaluations based on ground level evidence and feedback, and conducted by independent organisations without any conflict of interest. The minister pointed out that in spite of the long history of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in the country, somehow, a national evaluation policy had not come into existence. It was time to consider developing a National Evaluation Policy that would provide direction to M&E activities in the country, laying stress upon quality standards and sound, ethical procedures and provide for appropriate institutional mechanisms.
The Minister observed that United Nations was in the process of developing a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which would build upon the MDGs and would form the basis for global development for the next 15 years. A robust system should be in place to monitor progress towards these goals of gender equality, social equity and protection of environment.
The Minister congratulated NITI Aayog and NILERD for coming together to take this timely initiative to organize this Evaluation Week, which coincided with the declaration of the year 2015, as the International year of Evaluation. He hoped that EvalWeek would deliberate upon all important issues that would contribute to generating awareness, learning strategies for evaluation and creation of a culture of evaluation.
A number of technical sessions of presentations discussions on the theme of evaluation have been programmed for the five days of the Evalweek. Other events include interactions of delegated form other countries with various divisions of NITI Aayog, Round tables on gender-responsive and equity focused evaluations, case studies, emerging challenges, participatory approaches to evaluation and so on.
The EvalWeek will conclude on 23rd January 2015 with a summing up on the outcomes and valedictory address by the CEO, NITI Aayog. The Evaluation Torch will also be formally handed over to the next event of the International Evaluation Year.
On the occasion a compendium of articles on evaluation policies and practice contributed by various evaluation researchers and evaluation practitioners titled Evaluation for Sustainable Development- Experience and Learning was also released by Minister to mark the EvalWeek.