New Avatar of Planning Commission: Structure and Process

    Date : 15-Nov-2014
Building Institutions for Cooperative Planning in Federal India
Jointly Organised by: IPF and FOF
November 15, 2014, Constitution Club, New Delhi
A day-long seminar on “New Avatar of Planning Commission: Structure and Process” was jointly organized by the India Policy Foundation (IPF) and Forum of Federations (FOF), an international body of federations at the Constitution Club of India, New Delhi, on November 15. This seminar was organized to debate the structure and direction of the new body that is slated to take the place of the erstwhile Planning Commission, which has now been abolished by the Government of India.
Shri A.R. Kohli, former Governor of Mizoram commended the IPF and FOF for organizing a seminar on this very contemporary issue. He said that any solutions to any problem must be sought in the fundamentals. Solutions based only on the superficial structure were bound to collapse sooner or later.

T.S.R. Subramanian, former Cabinet Secretary, Government of India, said that there is a new generational shift taking place and called for building new paradigm of thinking as part of the exercise. Organizations that wield authority but are not accountable are apt to create hurdles, he said. He stressed on linkages between the country‟s academic institutions and industry, drawing parallels with advanced countries.
Prof. Rakesh Sinha, Honorary Director, India Policy Foundation said that the entire process of planning has been a victim of infantile disorder. No segment of the society can be included from the process of planning. The process of planning in our country has been captive in the hands of the elite, who failed to comprehend the unparalleled diversities of our nation and society, its indigenous skills and knowledge.
Shri Rupak Chattopadhyay, President & CEO, Forum of Federations, briefly outlined the role of the Forum of Federations and India‟s unique place in it. He emphasized the need to focus on outcomes rather than inputs.

In the second session, “Reforming Towards an Enabling Institution for Development”, Prof, Manoj Panda of the Institute of Economic Growth said that the Planning Commission, under stalwarts like Prof. P.C. Mahalnobis, did impart some direction to the developmental needs of a newly independent country. India should have had the conviction to change that model, which it failed to do.
Prof. Ashwini Mahajan of the Swadeshi Jagaran Manch emphasized the need to construct a new edifice for holistic development of the country. He traced the changing composition of the country‟s GDP and its debilitating after-effects on a basic sector like agriculture and the country‟s rural life, which was bound to cast its effect on the rest of the economy.

Shri Amitabh Pande, former Secretary of the Inter-State Council of the Government of India was blunt and forthright in voicing his happiness at the demise of the Planning Commission, saying that the Prime Minister‟s bold initiative has created the opportunity for fresh thinking. He called for either the creation of wholly new institution or the revamp of existing institutions.

Prof. Dolly Arora of the Indian Institute of Public Administration said that the perspectives on development differ vastly in India, because the people of the country are placed differently in ownership of resources, their capacity to influence outcomes and their needs. This makes the very development concept a contested territory.
Shri Sameer Saran, Vice President, Observer Research Foundation, briefly traced the socioeconomic history following independence and stated that the decisions the country made today, as it seeks to create new institutions would decide the course of its future over the next few decades.
The third session of the seminar was on “New Institutions for Future Planning and Development”. Noted economic thinker Gopal Agarwal made a forceful plea to include all stakeholders in the process of building new institutions for development, governance and inclusive growth.
Shri B Surendaran, Deputy Organizing Secretary of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh touched upon a very sensitive issue when he said that the attraction for residing in the rural milieu and contributing to it, and respect for rural life has sadly diminished. He called for a five-tier model in the construction of any new institution.
Dr. Govinda Rao, Member of the Finance Commission reiterated the Prime Minister Narendra
Modi‟s message on the occasion of announcing the doing away of the Planning Commission and the setting up of a new one. He said the centralized command establishment had shown its utter inability to carry out its stated mandate.
Dr. Narendra Jadhav, former Member of the Planning Commission said the body had become a whipping horse but had not done as badly as was being made. He said the proposed new entity must completely eschew the traditional command and control mould. It must be a genuine knowledge hub bringing in expertise to handle complex issues and developments.
Shri Pradeep Singh Mehta, Secretary General, CUTS International was of the opinion that the Planning Commission did do some good work, which should not be overlooked. He said that the dire necessity of a new body is resonant with the wide opinion in the country with regard to this issue.
Shri Harsh Singh, former Assistant Resident Representative, UNDP – India, said that India has reached a stage where its potentialities and the needs of its people have grown so large that they cannot be met by the process of planning alone. Planned schemes or a centrally planned process could not achieve desired outcomes. Shri Singh called for the creation of a highly politically empowered, National Transformation Commission‟ to generate consensus on the vision for a new India. process.