Abolishing Planning Commission: Why Modi Government’s move should be appreciated

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent announcement to abolish the decades old Planning Commission, might be seen by many as fitting end for a Nehrvian relic, but it is a innovative move in right direction.

Critics must understand that the announcement by growth-oriented Prime Minister is not aimed at demolishing Nehru legacy but to fast-track the development work in the country and empowering the States. It is proposed that the Commission will be replaced with a five-member think-tank most likely be led in an executive capacity by former union minister Suresh Prabhu.

In his maiden address to the nation on the 68th Independence Day, Prime Minister Modi said that time has changed and that the Planning Commission which was relevant once, is of no use today.

Modi said that it is high time to replace 64-year old apex policy making body, whose five year plans are always laboriously crafted but rarely followed, with a new institution to address the emerging economic needs and to strengthen the federal structure.

During his speech, Modi said, "We will very soon set up a new institution in place of Planning Commission...the internal situation of the country has changed, global environment has changed... ... If we want to take India forward, then States will have to be taken forward."

Planning Commission is outdated, needs a revamp:

The Planning Commission was set up in March 1950 by first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to optimise scarce resource in newly-born nation. But, over the past few years, it has earned the dubious distinction of being a parking lot for cronies of the erstwhile UPA Government.

In 2012, it was criticised for spending 50,000 to renovate two office toilets and then for suggesting that citizens who consumed goods worth Rs 27 or more were not poor. The Planning Commission has been plagued by red-tapism and other controversies which have affect its functioning.

A move towards empowering States During his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, Modi accused Commission of doing step-motherly treatment to BJP ruled States especially Gujarat. He said the State has never been given adequate funds to carryout development work. He also accused the members of Commission of high-handedness and hobbling States with one-size-fits-all policies. 

It is proposed that the Commission will be replaced with a 5-member think-tank

Independent Evalutation Office (IEO) in its report said that the States want a system which gives them a flexibility to use these funds in a manner that suits their development and addresses their development challenges.

Proposed panel will be apex think-tank:

Some expert says the new commission will be on the lines of China’s National Development and Reforms Commission (NDRC). The proposed multi-member body is expected to be very contemporary in its thought and being.

According to media reports, eminent personalities from both the public and corporate sectors are likely to be roped in and it will work under direct supervision of Prime Minister. It will look into economic, social, infrastructure and other areas.

The terms of reference of the new body have not been fixed yet. The proposed apex think-tank will be tasked with charting the future of the country's economy, including the implementation of the Prime Minister's 'Make in India' campaign for boosting manufacturing in the country.

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