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Planning Commission: Down memory lane

The 65-year-old Planning Commission was on Thursday replaced by a new body, NITI Aayog or the National Institution for Transforming India, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would “serve as a policy think-tank for the central as well as state governments”.



New Delhi: The 65-year-old Planning Commission was on Thursday replaced by a new body, NITI Aayog or the National Institution for Transforming India, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi said would “serve as a policy think-tank for the central as well as state governments”.

He also said that the new plan panel of the BJP-led NDA government celebrated “India's diversity and plurality.”.

It may be recalled that PM Modi had announced in his first Independence Day speech on August 15, 2014 that the Planning Commission would get a replacement.

Set up by India's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the Planning Commission brought 12 five-year plans and six annual plans involving fund outlays of over Rs 200 lakh crore in its nearly 65-year-history.

The Plan Panel, as it was commonly known, was set up by a simple government resolution on March 15, 1950 and has withstood many political and economic upheavals.

Incidentally, the new body has also been set up through a Cabinet Resolution, which has invoked words of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Swami Vivekanand and Deen Dayal Upadhyaya.

It was a decisive mandate for a change of government during a politically and economically supercharged 2014 that finally led to the epitaph being written for Plan Panel.

While it went through numerous operational makeovers over the years of its existence, ranging from being a simple planning body to a powerful 'control-commission' to a fiscal decentralisation instrument to an official think-tank, the voices had begun to grow louder for an overhaul even before the new government took charge in May 2014.

The defeat of the last UPA government, however, led to immediate resignation of the Commission's Deputy Chairman, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, who was at the helm of affairs for a decade, and other members in the last week of May.

Subsequently, a consultation process was launched for suggestions on the structure and role of the new body.

It was suggested that instead of a "Control Commission", the new body should play the role of a catalyst and provide a platform to the Centre, states and experts to discuss issues and come out with the best solutions.

Incidentally, Nehru himself is said to have faced resistance to the idea of setting up of the Planning Commission, but it went on to become a major platform for successive governments to formulate and push forward economic policies and other development plans.

The new panel is slated to provide governments at the central and state levels with relevant strategic and technical advice across the spectrum of key elements of policy, this includes matters of national and international import on the economic front, dissemination of best practices from within the country as well as from other nations, the infusion of new policy ideas and specific issue-based support, an official statement said.

The NITI Aayog will have a governing council comprising of all state Chief Ministers and Lt Governors and will work towards fostering a 'co-operative federalism' for providing a "national agenda" to the Centre and States, as per PTI.

The body will have a CEO and a Vice Chairperson, to be appointed by the Prime Minister, in addition to some full-time members and two part-time members, while four union ministers would serve as ex-officio members.

The Planning Commission instead had a Deputy Chairperson.

Besides, there would be specific regional councils, while experts and specialists from various fields would be there as "special invitees nominated by the Prime Minister".

While the two part-time members would be from leading universities and research organisations, the number of full time members has not been specified as yet.

With Agency inputs

 

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