Amid demands for special category status by Bihar, the Centre on Wednesday set up an expert committee to evolve a composite index to measure backwardness of states.
"It has been decided to constitute an expert committee... to consider backwardness of the States in terms of measures like distance of the State from the national average under criteria such as per capita income and other human development indicators and for evolving a composite development index of states," the finance ministry said in a statement.
The terms of reference of the committee will be issued separately, it added. The 6-member committee headed by Raghuram G Rajan, chief economic adviser would submit its report within 60 days.
The other members of the committee are Shaibal Gupta, Bharat Ramaswami, Najeeb Jung, Nirija G Jayal and Tuhin Pandey. The panel, set up in pursuant to the budget announcement, can invite other experts as special invitees for deliberations. Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his party Janata Dal-United have been demanding special category status for Bihar, which lags behind the national average on all important indices, to spur its development process.
The present criteria for determining backwardness are based on terrain, density of population and length of international borders.
In his Budget 2013-14 speech, Finance Minister P Chidambaram had proposed to evolve new criteria and reflect them in future planning and devolution of funds.