Errors of Commission

The Indian Express, December 06, 2014
A meeting of chief ministers will be chaired by the prime minister tomorrow to discuss the structure and functioning of the body that will replace the Planning Commission. But till such time as the new body is created, the commission is to continue with its “mandate”.

The Planning Commission, set up in March 1950 by a resolution of the government, had neither statutory nor constitutional backing, but derived some of its authority from the Directive Principles. The resolution charged the Planning Commission with the responsibility of making an assessment of the material, capital and human resources of the country and investigating the possibilities of augmenting deficient resources; formulating a plan for the most effective and balanced utilisation of resources; determining priorities and defining stages in which the plan would be implemented and proposing the allocation of resources; indicating which factors tend to retard economic development and determining the conditions needed for execution of the plan; appraising the progress achieved in execution and recommending appropriate adjustments. The commission was to be “an organisation free from the burden of the day-to-day administration, but in constant touch with the government at the highest policy level”. It was to make recommendations to the cabinet and was expected to act in close understanding and consultation with the Central ministries and state governments. While finalising the contours of the new body, the original mandate and history of the commission become interesting. Over time, the commission moved away from its original mandate in significant ways.

While the commission engaged in wide consultations for the formulation of the five-year plans, the way in which the approach document and draft plan were placed before the National Development Council was not rigorous enough. A day-long meeting of the NDC does not give enough time or space to the CMs. Many CMs feel that their role in the council was simply to endorse the approach or draft plan. While issues raised by them were noted and, sometimes, sub-committees set up, all meetings ended in the approval of the documents. Read Full story>>

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