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Scrapping of the Planning Commission- Discuss

From the rampart of the Red Fort on Independence Day our Prime Minister announced the scrapping up of the Planning Commission with a new think tank whose structure and functions are still under consideration. The creation of new think tank has been emphasized by certain agencies as being more realistic, innovative, evaluative and need based. In recent scenario the Planning Commission has become the subject of much criticism typically with regard to defining the Poverty Line for the rural and the urban areas. The unrealistic portray of poverty followed by the hegemony over states in allocating resources has raised brows of stakeholders from states and several other quarters fueling the cause to scrap the commission.

The Planning Commission is the non-statutory body, advisory in role, constituted post-independence with Jawaharlal Nehru as its first Chairperson. The idea of planning was not new then but has been topic of much discussion even before gaining independence. During 1930's viz 1931 Karachi session, 1936 Fazipur Session of INC economic perspective of planning has been discussed at length. The 1938 session of INC saw the establishment of National Planning Committee at the instance of S.C Bose whose report was put out only after World war-II in 1948-49. The planning commission is the model outcome of this very report and several plans mooted during the decade such as Bombay Plan, Peoples Plan, Gandhian Plan and Sarvodaya Plan etc..

The Planning is categorized into two broad categories viz imperative and indicative planning. The imperative planning lay a centrally command body where state ownership is stressed as a theme for effective planning. The indicative planning on the other hand shares a mix of both public and private ownership delving into wavery market behavior to thread bare planning models and approaches concern.

Tussle with Finance Commission
The critic and stakeholders have raised concerns and resonated against the duality or the parallel role of Finance Commission vis a vis Planning Commission. The Planning Commission being a non-statutory body outnumbered and truncated the role of Finance Commission under political suzerainty in contemporaries.

The Finance Commission is constituted under Article 280 of the Constitution is a constitutional body. The framers of our Constitution had known the vital role for it in accomplishing economic goals for the country but reducing its role by the non-statutory body is not taken by several quarters. The rebalancing has been done now with the scrapping of Planning Commission but this should be followed by the restoration of role, functioning and importance of Finance Commission in leashing model roles and objectives as dreamt by the founders of our Constitution.

Losing Planning Commission relevance

  • The appointments in the Planning Commission in recent times have been reduced to mere as a political fulfilment. The Five Year Plans by the planning Commission breaches and is followed by a suitable revision in target or plan itself; reducing its resolve to trigger the momentum to achieve the economic and other social objectives.
  • The conclusions of FYP are not followed by a conciliatory account of plan achievements vs non achievements. The accountability is not defined suitably.
  • There is a lack of evolutionary approach of the Commission however the same has been restored to some extent with the constitution of Independent Evaluation Office in recent times.
  • The alienation of Planning Commission with ground realities has often been the point of criticism.
  • The take-aways of prevision Plans is not factored into forward plans suggesting the Commission only being a bureaucratic framework.
  • The Govt. of the day has truly perceived the lack of resolve on the part of Planning Commission scrapping it with a suitable replacement in the offing.

Rishi Tandon