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Scrapping of the Planning Commission- Discuss

Planning commission was formed in March, 1950 to optimise scare resource in a newly born nation. It was formed against the backdrop of defeat of Industrialized Western Germany in World War II by young USSR and Success of USSR as industrialized nation. But, Presently, Condition has changed from the circumstances in which planning commission was created, particularly after 1991 when we adopted Liberalization, Privatization, and Globalization. (Should I write these things in Introduction or else what to write or what to modify)

The Planning Commission did play a crucial role in developing a holistic approach to policy formulation in critical areas of development such as rural health, drinking water, energy security, and environment protection. The commission worked as an interface between the finance ministry and other ministries, coordinating with them for expenditure allocations in sync with plans. Often it used to be called the only representative of poor at the centre. In the initial three five year plan it provided a vision for the country future but after a gap of three annual plans it got adrift.

Over time Planning Commission has acquired tremendous power of distant planning which is unsuitable to a country as diverse and complex as India. There were many cases of approvals, grants-in-aid and other decisions which faced bureaucratic red tape more than motivated by the broader national interest and effectiveness of functioning.

Let us analyze the function being performed by the Planning commission and its relevance.

First, The Centre encroached upon the state list enumerated in the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution (wherein most matters for social and economic planning are given) thus adversely affecting our federal structure. This resulted in financial centralisation and the subsequent collapse of governance in states. Overtime centre has begun to route fund directly to societies and NGO Thus, what is required is channelizing schemes through states so that accountability and monitoring can be done properly.

Every year the deputy chairperson of the commission approve state plans and thus allocate fund to the states. The whole exercise is a ridicule of the Finance Commission created by the Constitution to split resources between the Centre and states.

Centralised planning's without being considerate to the complexity and diversity of the nation is a mockery of the planning. A scheme may not be germane to some states but they still want to take share in the resources for the scheme. Every state in India is different and they have their own priorities. But the commission, designed to go by the Centre's policies and preferences, cannot accommodate all the preferences of elected state governments thus hampering real state development and wrongly routing crucial financial resource of the country thus affecting governance also.

The functions of the Subject Divisions in the Planning Commission are a duplication of what goes on in the Departments and could easily be done away with. The Departments can formulate and implement their own plans and programmes and the allocation of funds for this purpose can be made by the Finance Ministry.

Besides the plan programmes of Central Government Departments, the Planning Commission also overseas the planning process of the State Governments. Here again the super body is nothing more than an unwanted intruder and the State Governments should be given autonomy to make their own plans and programmes.

This role of allocation of funds can be easily performed by a small unit attached to the Economic Division in the Finance Ministry. The Economic Division in the Finance Ministry is the one headed by the Chief Economic Adviser. { I found difficult in transition from here to next paragraph i.e starting conclusion seems abrupt}

Thus we can see most of the function which are currently being performed by the planning commission are either duplication of the work or intruding in some one work. In fact planning commission overtime have become a massive structure which is not fetching any benefit to the country in real term as most of the functions of it can be delegated or transferred to some other more specialized agency or parent organization. Thus, in the present situation time is apt to write the obituary of the planning commission.

"As the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping's dictum goes, it does not matter whether the cat is black or white as long as it catches mice. It is not about ideology but the commission's utility."

Nilaya Mitash Shanker

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